Written By: Evan Halfen and Tara Sbordone
With THON™ Weekend 2023 quickly approaching, we are excited to spotlight the organization Penn State Student Athlete Advisory Board. The organization’s THON™ Chair, Jimmy Meyers, helps to represent all the student-athletes at Penn State. The organization’s goal is to ensure that each athlete can be engaged in as many activities as possible, while simultaneously creating a friendly environment for all student-athletes to feel at home.
The Student-Athlete Advisory Board, also known as SAAB, was founded in 1987 and has been giving Penn State student-athletes the opportunity to express their opinions, plan activities, and enhance intercollegiate athletics at Penn State for the past few decades. SAAB has won several awards throughout the years and aspires to keep up its service to the university.
SAAB serves as a point of communication for needs and issues impacting the academic performance and personal wellbeing of student-athletes between the Morgan Academic Support Center for Student-Athletes (MASCSA), Penn State Athletic Department, and all student-athletes. Additionally, they serve as a point of contact for the university community by acting as a voice to the student-athlete body and spreading awareness of their accomplishments.
Through Penn State’s Student Athlete Advisory Board’s passion and commitment to THON, they’re able to support their paired Four Diamonds family and hundreds of others. During THON Weekend, their group will have an athlete hour where members of SAAB will have the opportunity to engage with a wealth of Four Diamonds families and create new bonds with Four Diamonds children they would never have met otherwise.
The group’s fundraisers have been a success over the years with their high-energy and fun ideas. Meyers’ favorite fundraising event they hold is the pep rally at THON Weekend. Their group is able to go on stage and perform a choreographed dance in front of the crowd, an experience Meyers says he will never forget. The group has also had various fun events for its members to interact with their paired families. For one of their activities, they have a lip sync battle coming up where all of their families are invited to come and participate in fun games with the athletes.
“My favorite THON memory is the athlete hour before we go on stage for pep rally,” Meyers said. “Meeting all of the families and learning about who they are is very special. Being paired with families and getting connected with them is also an amazing experience.”
Furthermore, the organization sponsors certain athletic games and meets throughout the fall and spring semesters. Meyers’ committee also sends out THONvelopes before winter break every year to the families and friends of their committee. This allows them to connect with their community and spread awareness of THON’s mission.
Meyers THONs because he wants to make the world a better place for more people than just himself leave a positive impact on other people. He enjoys making other people happy and feels that THON gives him the perfect opportunity to do so. THON has introduced Meyer to many new people and families who he can bring joy to.
“I am looking forward to athlete hour this year,” Meyers said. “We are able to engage with many families and create bonds with kids that we may have never met otherwise. We have a putting station set up each year that the kids come around and hit some putts. The joy in their eyes when we encourage them and help them out is truly immeasurable.”