by Scott Katherine

Written by Dana Russell and Barbara Price

The Penn Pal Program plays a vital role in connecting the THON™ community to individual Four Diamonds families. Committees get to know Four Diamonds children by interacting with them through phone calls, emails, and written interactions, allowing them to develop stronger relationships with them.  

Volunteers bond with families at last year’s Family Carnival. Photo taken by Sami Reilly.

According to Family Programming co-captain Courtney Kehoe, the program “gives Committees the opportunity to know one of the families THON supports on a more personal level, and this is such a special connection to build. We love to see these relationships form and last!” Moreover, assigned Penn Pals provide additional support and encouragement to families as they bravely fight their battle with childhood cancer. Ultimately, the Penn Pal Program allows for Committee Members to foster better relationships with Four Diamonds families and to be better friends to the children we support.  

Courtney further elaborates that “families are at the forefront of our mission, and getting to bond with someone impacted by childhood cancer can be really grounding and motivating for a lot of Committee Members and Captains.” Additionally, providing families with the opportunity to know more volunteers makes the THON Community feel more like a family for them. Finally, Penn Pals is a wonderful way for Committee Members to become more involved in our mission. The entire THON Community is excited about pairing more committees within the program after Family Carnival! 

Alyssa Steinberg, the other program co-captain, emphasizes that with Penn Pals, it allows a straightforward connection between volunteers and families. She states that the “Penn Pal Program allows THON volunteers and Four Diamonds families to get to know each other on a much more personal, and exciting level that otherwise would be difficult to do.” She later goes on to describe the goal of the captains to run a successful program, stating, “Courtney and I’s main goal as Family Program Coordinators is to bridge the gap between all volunteers and families…” 

For students new to the THON Community, Penn Pals is a great way to get more involved and make an impact. This family program allows many of the volunteers involved in THON to develop a close relationship with the families who we are volunteering for! We hope that through initiatives such as the Penn Pal Program, we continue to make an impact behind the scenes and face-to-face with our families!

Header Photo: Volunteers having fun with families at this year’s THON 5K powered by PNC. Photo taken by Elle McIntyre.