THON is only 22 short days away, and student volunteers are scrambling to get everything in order for the best 46 hours of the year. But Penn State students aren’t the only folks excited for the weekend.
Suzanne Graney, the director of the Four Diamonds Fund (THON’s benefactor), and the rest of her team provide support to THON year-round. We sat down with Graney to talk about her inspiring job and what THON means to her.
Onward State: What does your schedule look like on a day-to-day basis?
Suzanne Graney: It changes each day. Sometimes I’m in the office for the day, catching up on phone calls, emails, meetings, planning projects. Other days I’m on the road meeting with donors, Advisory Board members, and others interested in helping Four Diamonds.
OS: How often do you interact with Four Diamonds families?
SG: I get to meet families on a fairly regular basis, and have gotten to work with some of them to capture their stories, interact during events, and work with them on specific media requests. The work our team does helps to make an impact by easing their financial burden related to their child’s cancer treatment, and to help fund our researchers whose search for new treatments and cures tremendously impacts the families.
OS: What does the Four Diamonds Fund do outside of the THON culture?
SG: We are actively growing the Mini-THON program, growing other revenue sources, and working on Four Diamonds branding.
OS: What can you tell about the new renovations at the Hershey Medical Center?
SG: The new Children’s Hospital is just superb. It’s kid-friendly, bright and colorful and provides a state-of-the-art environment for our medical teams to provide outstanding care to children.
OS: What has been your ultimate inspiration?
SG: I’m inspired on a regular basis by the children and families I’ve met through Four Diamonds, and how they teach us all about courage, wisdom, honesty, and strength.
OS: Why did you choose be the one in charge of the Four Diamonds Fund?
SG: I was drawn to the mission, to the opportunity to work with so many outstanding students, and to help make a positive difference.
OS: What’s something you wish to see changed in the Four Diamonds Fund?
SG: I think it’s important for us to tell our story better, so that more people understand who is helped, why it’s so important, the vital role research plays in the work we do, and how they can help.
OS: Do you think the Four Diamonds Fund gets proper recognition compared to THON?
SG: We work cooperatively with THON to help people understand how THON and Four Diamonds work together, what role each of us plays, and how others can help us move closer to a cure for childhood cancer.
OS: What do you think makes the Four Diamonds Fund so successful?
SG: I think it’s based on the quality of care provided by a top-notch team at the Children’s Hospital, combined with brilliant scientific minds, the enthusiasm and dedication of tens of thousands of empowered young volunteers, compassionate caring donors, and inspiring children who are at the heart of everything we do.
OS: If you could be any dinosaur, which would you be and why?
SG: My favorite dinosaur is Triceratops, just because I remember a childhood song about it! Here are the lyrics: Triceratops with three long horns, a beak like a parrot, and a frill where his neck is…Triceratops with four big legs and a tail in back.