THON 101: Family Relations
There are many quantifiable measures of THON’s success, namely how much money students raise from canning, rafflebooking, THONline donations, THONvelopes, and so on. The Family Relations committee, however, seeks success in an intangible and emotional way: through the children and families that inspire everything from the canning to the dancing.
The Family Relations Committee–consisting of Overall Kaylee Tully, 22 captains, and general committee members–coordinates all things related to the THON families over the course of the year. As the families are the core of THON, Family Relations according has high responsibilities. For instance, Family Relations’ Four Diamonds Contact serves as the main bridge between THON and the Four Diamonds Fund, and also coordinates all aspects of the Hershey Tours and Special Visitor trips.
Most notably, the committee sponsors the Adopt-a-Family program, which offers Penn State students the opportunity to build personal and emotional relationships with Four Diamonds Families. Three captains serve as liaisons for the Adopt-a-Family program, pairing General, Special Interest, and Commonwealth organizations with Four Diamonds Families. Over the course of the year, these captains will identify organizations that go above and beyond in their relationships with their families. On the other hand, they also penalize organizations that fail to fulfill their duties within Adopt-a Family. A separate captain with similar responsibilities serves as the liaison for the Greek organizations. In addition, the New Family Contact Captain coordinates all events for first-time families and is in charge of expanding the Families Helping Families program, which pairs veteran families with new families.
The committee also plans and executes events such as Harvest Day, THON Hoops, THON Sluggers, and the Post-THON Celebration Picnic.
During THON weekend itself, the committee places Four Diamond Families in hotel rooms and helps create a welcoming and comfortable environment for the families. As well, the committee organizes the Penn State Wish program and the No Grown Ups Allowed Room. Family Relations is by far the most emotional part of THON, so don’t be surprised to see those that have made close relationships with the families–the committee members and THONers from other organizations–tear up during those final four hours.