THON’s recent decision to restrict each Four Diamonds Family to only three floor passes, one of which is for each’s Four Diamonds child, for the Sunday of THON was extremely unpopular among families and students alike.
When the change was announced, Family Relations Director Cara Wojciechowski said it was made with the families’ safeties at interest due to the growing number of THON attendees. But that explanation rang hollow for families who won’t be able to make it to the floor anymore because they have other kids to watch or other concerns. A week after this decision was announced, Executive Director Megan Renaut explained THON’s rationale in a letter sent to the THON community and posted on THON’s website today.
The letter is in full below.
Dear THON Community,
It is undeniable that the success of THON would not be possible without the efforts of every single one of our stakeholders: all Four Diamonds families, student volunteers, alumni, donors, and supporters. When given the opportunity to enter this position, my first and foremost priority became doing everything I can to ensure that THON 2015 is taking steps to conquer childhood cancer.
I would like to take the time to provide more insight into the decision regarding family passes and to respond to the concerns from members of our community. Most importantly, THON’s mission has and always will be For The Kids. When faced with making difficult decisions, including the most recent one regarding family passes, the families and their experience are always our top consideration for every event. However, like all far-reaching and multi-faceted challenges, there are many other factors that need to be considered. The decision to reduce the number of family passes for Sunday of THON Weekend was made thoughtfully and with a heavy heart, but it was necessary. It was by no means an easy decision and I still feel as though I cannot fully convey how difficult it was to present this to families. I want every family to feel the love and support that welcomes them into the BJC during THON Weekend. I want every family member to know they have 15,000 students fighting for a cure to the cancer that is forever affecting their lives. I want THON to be a place of healing and a home. This has and always will be our guiding principle and motivation.
Each year, THON has the challenge to adapt to our growth, while remaining rooted in what makes THON special. This balance is particularly significant when it is applied to the culmination of our efforts, THON Weekend. For the final four hours, the three largest groups on the floor, by far, are: families, dancers, and dancers’ designated final four pass holders. While some committees do rotate through shifts throughout THON Weekend, on Sunday that number is greatly reduced to be the absolute minimum. In the past four years, THON has made drastic pass cuts to every group of THON Weekend spectators, including special guests, organization members, and donors in order to allow everyone that wants to fight pediatric cancer to be a part of our community.
Since 2009, 118 new families have registered for THON Weekend. This past year alone, there were 44 new families registered to attend THON for the first time. Not only does that number push us to keep fighting for a cure, but it also demands that we be proactive in our annual evaluation of the event. It is an unfortunate reality of scale that we must continue to evaluate and make pass cuts that can secure the growth and ensure the safety of our event’s participants. If every new family is to enjoy and experience THON Weekend, we all – students, donors and supporters alike – must make room for the growing number of families.
We are working diligently to make accommodations for families who will be in two locations during the final four hours. We are looking into all options of how we can ease this transition for families’ final four hours experience. Access to Family Lounge, South Annex, and the ability to swap final four passes throughout the day on Sunday are all possibilities we are exploring for families.
During a challenging time for THON, I ask every THON supporter to trust that we all have the same priorities and intentions. We are doing everything possible to keep the families at the heart of every decision we make. I appreciate and sincerely value your feedback and am happy to hear any concerns you may have. Thank you to every volunteer and supporter for your dedication and commitment to our cause. Together, as one THON community, we will continue to make a difference in the life of a child.
For The Fight, For The Cure, For The Kids,
THON 2015 Executive Director