When former THON chairs from Penn State commonwealth campuses arrived at University Park for the fall semester, they came together to brainstorm ideas for what they wanted in a special interest org. As they looked at their goals, they realized there wasn’t already an organization that met their needs, so they decided to form their own.
As the founders looked at their slogan — “Commonwealth, in a common place, for a common goal” — their choice for a name became obvious. It was there that “Common” was born.
The goal of “Common” was simple — the founders wanted the special interest org to bring commonwealth campus students together to raise money for pediatric cancer once they arrived at University Park. It can be a difficult transition for some transfer students, so “Common” helps to engage with them as soon as they arrive. So far, the org has students from six commonwealth campuses.
Although “Common” is only in its first year, the org was able to bring 35 students together to raise about $37,000 for the Four Diamonds Fund and earned two dancer spots. It wasn’t recognized as a THON special interest org until October 7, so it missed the first canning weekend, said “Common” commonwealth liasion Keith Hacke, a former Altoona THON chair.
“It’s a blessing we raised this much money in our first year,” Hacke, a junior majoring in energy, business, and finance. “We put in so much effort and time to recruit for the kids and families.”
To make up for this lost canning weekend, Hacke said “Common” held many alternative fundraisers, such as a candle sale. They also attended the next two canning weekends and sent thousands of THONvelopes.
“Common” had to enter the lottery to earn dancer spots this year, so it wasn’t until recently that the org learned it would have two spots. It’s guaranteed the org will get two next year, but Hacke said he hopes there will be a third dancer on the floor.
“It’s an amazing feeling looking around and seeing our success in one building,” Hacke said, as he gestured to the “Common’s” front row seats at the BJC. “We raised so much much for the kids and the Four Diamond Fund. That’s just such a good feeling.”
Next year, Hacke plans to stay involved with “Common,” but he said he wants to do more. He will apply to be a captain or committee member, leaving his dream of dancing until after he graduates. Hacke wants to dance with his older brother Mike, the 2009 THON overall, through the alumni interest group.
For now, Hacke plans to just soak in the amazing feeling of collectively raising more money than he could have imagined For The Kids.