Family Relations Director
Hometown: Strongsville, OH
Major: Biobehavioral Health
Previous THON Involvement
THON 2018: Dancer Relations Committee Member
THON 2019: Public Relations Media Relations Captain
THON 2020: Family Relations Administrative Assistant Captain
Why did you want to be a Director?
The relationships I've created and the memories I have formed with Four Diamonds Families are what have driven me to continue being a THON volunteer. Throughout my time serving this organization, countless parents, children, and siblings have had an insurmountable impact on who I am as a volunteer, leader, and person. The influence that every family has on this community fills me with motivation and optimism. This is what led me to want to take on more and have a greater impact in providing emotional support. I wanted to serve on the Executive Committee so that I could contribute to connecting all THON volunteers with meaningful relationships; the impact of a family interaction can be powerful, and connecting every volunteer and every supporter with these interactions can strengthen our collective effort to live out THON’s mission to the fullest. These interactions gave me a voice to spread THON’s mission to others, and I wanted to help instill this passion across our community.
What responsibilities do you have as the Family Relations Director for THON 2021?
As the Family Relations Director, I have the honor of working with the 25 captains on my committee to ensure that the families we serve remain at the heart of everything that THON does. My committee is responsible for facilitating interactions between volunteers and families, helping to encourage meaningful relationships across the THON community. We work to create and uphold programming opportunities that provide special experiences for Four Diamonds Families, such as the TEENetwork, Penn Pal Program, Captain-In-Training, New Family Orientation, and so many others. The Family Relations Committee also has the special opportunity to pair THON organizations with Four Diamonds Families through the Adopt-A-Family Program, connecting more volunteers with avenues to provide emotional support. We also work to educate the THON community on the realities of a family's journey with cancer; we amplify and champion Four Diamonds Families' voices through the Family Education Program, Family Focus Videos, and other spotlights. In short, the Family Relations Director is tasked with fostering a unified sense of community, centering all THON volunteers around the emotional support that we provide to all families.
What is your favorite THON memory?
My favorite THON memory was having the opportunity to attend the vigil that ATO and ZTA set up to honor the life of Joyce Ortiz. This event allowed me to see firsthand the immense impact that a group unified by hope and love can have. Feeling the THON community come together to celebrate Joyce's life was one of the most special experiences that I have ever been a part of. Saying goodbye to Joyce took a toll on so many individuals, from her own family to ATO and ZTA, from Family Relations to the entire THON community; she was strong, determined, and so loved. Though my relationship with Joyce was not as close as that with her organization members, they welcomed the Family Relations Committee and the THON community with open arms to celebrate Joyce with them at her remembrance. This entire experience was beautiful, as volunteers and friends came together to continue this fight in the spirit of Joyce and keep her memory alive. Attending Joyce’s vigil at was indescribable; I felt as though she was in the room with us. Listening to so many stories about her life and hearing roaring laughter through tears from the entire group opened my eyes to exactly how and why THON is so special; we really do fight as one.
"Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light."
What are you involved in outside of THON?
Camp Kesem, Alpha Kappa Psi
What are your plans for after you graduate from Penn State?
Short term, I would love to work in fundraising/development at a philanthropy that I am passionate about. Further down the road, I plan to continue my education and pursue a Master's Degree in a psychology subfield.