Olivia Galow

Communications Director

Year: Senior
Hometown: Bucks County, PA
Majors: Kinesiology, Labor and Employment Relations

Previous THON Involvement

THON 2017: Penn State Abington Benefiting THON
THON 2018: Communications Committee Member
THON 2019: Communications Captain

Why did you want to be a Director?

From the day I attended my first meeting I knew that THON was going to be my passion. I have had the most amazing leaders and roles models who I will always look up to. I want to impact the THON community as they have. A community is a group of people we lean on when times are tough; our friends, family, and neighbors who are there for us when we need love, support, and encouragement. When we come together as a community anything is possible. I want to come together with the rest of the THON Community to do everything we can to support children and families fighting childhood cancer. THON is forever changing, through my years spent on the Communications Committee I have seen it change and I want to play an even larger role in that change. I want to share my passion for THON’s mission with future THON volunteers, empowering them to make a change. I want to work as team with people who share this passion, putting our entire hearts into THON.

I never met my Aunt Cami, who died at the age of 19 from childhood cancer. I believe that every child deserves to live a long and full life, free from the pain and suffering of cancer. Aunt Cami's story is why I believe so strongly in driving change. She was diagnosed with brain cancer when she was only six months old, in 1976. This was a time when families were isolated upon diagnosis; there was no community outreach, no support system, and no financial assistance. Aunt Cami would spend painfully long stretches of time at CHOP, and my grandparents, who could not afford a hotel room, would take turns sleeping in a chair next to her bed, sometimes for months on end. My grandparents had three other children at home who needed care as well. Through my mom's memories and stories of Aunt Cami, I developed a very strong desire to help children just like her. No child should spend the night alone in a hospital room because of financial strain and no family should suffer alone because the community does not know or understand what they’re going through. Aunt Cami's story ignited my passion for helping other children and families battling childhood cancer, and my time as a THON volunteer has only caused my passion to grow. I wanted to be a Director to continue to unite, grow, and strengthen the THON community to insure future children, like my Aunt Cami, who are diagnosed with childhood cancer fight this disease with the a community of love and support, and so that one day we can dance in celebration when no parent has to hear the words “your child has cancer”.

What are your main duties as the Communications Director for THON 2020?

Communications has 3 facets: Organizations, Education, and Outreach. As the Communications Director, I lead a captain committee of 21 captains who in turn lead 105 committee members and are the liaisons to all of the Penn State student body. As the Communications Director, I bring the organization perspective to every meeting, to ensure that we are making decisions with one of our most important stakeholders in mind: our volunteers. I help to spearhead THON's recruitment efforts to ensure that all students at Penn State are aware of the opportunities to get involved in THON. I also help to ensure all of our student stakeholders are properly informed of THON's history to be better ambassadors of THON's brand. Other responsibilities include the THON Blood Drive, overseeing the THON Office, and Captain and Director sleep-shifts THON Weekend.

What is your favorite THON memory?

My favorite THON memory happened at THON 2019 during the Mini-THON Outreach Event. This is an event where the Mini-THON Student Leaders come together to share their ideas and hear from different speakers. One of the speakers this year was Ken Shapiro who told his family's story. Ken’s high school was at the event and to see him get up in front of his peers with such poise and share his family’s journey was truly inspiring. The way that Ken’s mom and sister looked at him is a look that I will never forget. They were so beyond proud of him and the moment he was done they rushed up to embrace him in a hug, which is a memory that I cherish. Ken is an inspiration to not just me but everyone in his High School and the THON Community as a whole. Ken and his family will always hold a very special place in my heart.

What is your favorite quote?

"Find a group of people who challenge and inspire you, spend a lot of time with them, and it will change your life."

What are you involved with outside of THON?

Outside of THON I work on two research projects with my professors. One project is to better understand how to support those who have lost a parents. The other is to help those with cancer or have loved ones that have cancer cope to the best of their ability.

What are your plans after college graduation?

I hope to work in pharmaceutical sales for Merck selling Keytruda, a humanized antibody used in cancer immunotherapy.

Anything else to share?

I love THON with all my heart. I am so blessed to be able to work alongside all of our amazing volunteers and have my life filled with the most incredible people. I truly believe that one day we will dance in celebration and I cannot wait for that day.