Written by: Lucy Pearce, Kaitlyn Nguyen, & Laurel Donley
In preparation for THON™ Weekend, student volunteers show their commitment to THON’s mission to spread awareness, raise funds, and support childhood cancer research and treatment. THON is a yearlong effort that includes the dedication of student organizations that are involved in fundraising For The Kids® and the passion from committees who act as a pivotal element. They work on campaigning and facilitating events that help ensure that the word of THON’s purpose gets out to all who can support it. From November 12 – 18, the THON Community is celebrating a Week of Gratitude. Throughout this week, THON Volunteers will reflect on their experiences and what they are thankful for throughout their time in THON. This blog will look at various expressions of gratitude from different areas of THON such as committees, volunteers, and organizations.
The THON Entertainment Committee works behind-the-scenes for all Pre-THON and THON events and shows. Jordan Smith, an Entertainment Captain for THON 2024, shared what has motivated her to continue her THON journey for the past four years.
“I am grateful for my past and present THON Directors. They are a constant support system and always bring out the best in me. They always believe in me and never doubt my ability. Last year, my director allowed my co-captain and I to take the reins on some difficult projects and they ended up turning out great and are really improving our position for the years to come. This year, I am taking over the position my current director held last year. He has been so supportive when I have questions and truly allows me to make the position my own.”
THON™ 5K powered by PNC, is one of the various events that helps raise funds and awareness in pursuit of a cure. Every registration fee for the 5K goes directly to Four Diamonds at Penn State Health Children’s Hospital to ensure essential research for childhood can be done.
Leah Hickman, a senior and avid participant in THON 5K, shares her enthusiasm.
“I always love participating in the THON 5K! It is a great community event and I love supporting the kids. Also, it is great to get outside with friends and walk around campus. The music, food, and games make for a fun atmosphere!”
Her favorite memory while running in the THON 5K was seeing someone wear a Flash costume. She adds, “It was fun seeing people with signs and dancing and cheering.”
Rachel Ahn serves as the Lionette’s dance team’s primary family relation chair for THON 2024. The Lionette’s dance team has two THON Children, Shiloh and Harper. Rachel works to foster a relationship between the dance team and their THON families throughout the year.
“I am grateful for our THON families— the Crimmel’s and Patterson’s. We support each other endlessly no matter if it is a sporting event, watching Shiloh ring the cancer-free bell or watching Ashley get married and starting a family of her own. Each year we grow our team’s [Lionette’s dance team] connection with them.”
Rachel’s favorite part of her role is interacting with the families. She shares her favorite memories: “My favorite time is when we get to do fun activities like bowling or getting ice cream. It is a perfect time for families to connect with girls on the team. Our relationship with these two families is immensely powerful and they continue to inspire us every day.
THON has provided a community full of love, support, and passion for thousands of THON volunteers and the incredible people they have the opportunity to work with. Volunteering for THON means not only joining the largest student run philanthropy group in the world, but also joining a lifelong family and community. The journey spent with amazing supporters, families, and volunteers gives each of our amazing volunteers their own reason to THON. Our volunteers are forever grateful for the lifelong memories and incredible experiences given to them through their efforts to support research for childhood cancer and the amazing Four Diamonds families.
Cover photo credit to: Kiley Canimore