THON Director Thursday: Meet DAR Alumni Engagement Director Kelly McCready

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Name: Kelly McCready

Major: Human Development and Family Studies

Past THON Experience:

Freshman year — Dancer Relations committee member
Sophomore year — Alumni Engagement captain (alumni group fundraising)

Name an interesting, weird, or quirky fact about yourself:

I can only snap with my pinkies!

What made you want to apply for the Alumni Engagement Director position for THON 2018?

Throughout my years of involvement, I have seen first-hand the level of impact this organization has on families, and I had all of the desire in the world to give everything to an organization that has done so much for the individuals I care about most. I wanted to be on the Executive Committee for THON 2018 because I recognized how much THON and Four Diamonds had already shaped me into the person I had become, and I knew that I would continue to grow in this position. I wanted to represent the community positively and continue my innovation within the organization through my leadership, enthusiasm, and vision. When applying to be on the Executive Committee for THON 2018, I recognized my passion and perspective of THON which made me confident that I could devote the time and energy necessary while implementing my visions for THON 2018 and motivating my captains to create the change they want to see in our committee. all of this would contribute in bringing this organization to new heights. I knew that it would be an honor to be a member of the Executive Committee in order to continue impacting the lives of children and families. I wanted to have this role on the Executive Committee for THON 2018 in order to enhance THON for years to come and give more children the opportunity they deserve of having a childhood.

What are your responsibilities as the Alumni Engagement Director?

As the Alumni Engagement Director, I am responsible for working extensively with members of the Penn State alumni community and creating new ways to involve alumni in THON’s yearlong fundraising and awareness efforts. I focus on how we can more effectively educate our new, longstanding, and future alumni about how they can spread THON’s mission across the globe and bring THON to their community. I aid in the execution of both of our alumni campaigns, The Alumni Challenge and Inspire5, as well as assist individuals and alumni groups in the organization of Third Party and Alumni Group Fundraisers. In this position, I also work closely with the Penn State Alumni Association, Dance Marathon Alumni Interest Group, and alumni groups across the country. We work collaboratively together in order to create more tangible opportunities for our alumni to remain involved beyond four years.

What do you want to implement in your position this year that’s unique and differs from years past?

Something I have been working on this year is having a stronger Alumni Engagement presence with current Penn State students. We currently are not effectively educating our student organizations about how they can involve their respective alumni. We promote our campaigns and opportunities extensively to our email list and contacts, but we have not been empowering our student volunteers to also engage alumni. I want our student organizations who participate in THON to be knowledgeable about how their alumni can remain involved within their community. Through this, our student volunteers will also be aware of how our alumni remain involved within the community and recognize that the fight against childhood cancer does not end after graduation.

What makes the Alumni Engagement committee so cool, fun, and/or important?

One aspect of the Alumni Engagement Committee that I love is how we are able to interact with dedicated supporters all across the country. Our Penn State Alumni are everywhere, and there is an immense amount of potential in expanding THON’s community and spreading THON’s mission around the world through our alumni. I absolutely love the day-to-day interactions I have with Penn State Alumni because they have incredible stories, and they inspire me every day with the amount of passion they have in making a difference in the life of a child and family. Alumni Engagement is also only in its third year, so there is a lot of opportunity for implementing ideas. The decisions and projects that the Alumni Engagement Committee is creating now are making a lasting impact on the future of THON as a whole.

What are the overall goals you hope to reach with your committee for THON 2018?

One goal I have is making strides toward expanding our alumni involvement beyond the Northeastern Region. Our committee can be more effectively reaching out to the alumni who live in other parts of the country and ensuring that they feel a part of our community even though they are no longer in State College. There are campaigns and involvement opportunities we plan on executing this year in order to move towards these goals. Another goal I have is smoothing the transition between being a student and alumni. There is a period of time when many graduating seniors are unaware of what their THON involvement will look like as an alumni. I want to ensure that our graduating seniors feel recognized for their incredible efforts as a student volunteer, but also that they are educated about how they can remain involved in the area they are moving to. In addition, the goals that my captains create are also my goals. I want to ensure that my captains feel empowered in their positions and see the lasting impact that they can create within this organization.

Why do you THON?

During my freshman year of high school my next door neighbor, Rob DelFranco, was a freshman at Penn State and was diagnosed with Leukemia. As a Four Diamonds Family, they introduced me to THON and the impact the organization had within their lives. I THON because I recognize that I have been given one chance at life, and in this one life, I cannot imagine my time being spent any other way besides the opportunity to make an impact in the life of a child, sibling, and family. I have been blessed to have been given the privileges of family, health, etc. which are aspects of life I did not deserve more than any other individual. For some reason though, there are people who were born or given the diagnosis of cancer and other unavoidable diseases. It is up to me, someone who has the luxury of simply living, to give all I have to ensure every child has the same opportunities I did.

What’s your favorite THON memory?

My favorite THON memory was attending the Donor & Alumni Reception during THON 2017. In this reception, there were numerous individuals who all had very different backgrounds. It was inspiring to see so many donors, alumni, and supporters who all had a diverse background of what brought them to the event, but we were all brought together for one purpose. In that moment, I felt that I understood how powerful and united our community truly is. There was a researcher and Four Diamonds Family who came and spoke at the event, and it was incredible to hear their stories and perspectives in the middle of the weekend. It was a great reminder of the individuals we are impacting and why we need to continue fighting until there is a cure.

Per Onward State tradition, if you could be any dinosaur, which one would you be and why?

I took a Dinosaur Extinctions class my Freshman year at Penn State, and one of the dinosaurs I remember was Deinonychus. From what I remember, they were a dinosaur fossil that helped prove the theory of how birds are linked to dinosaurs, and their “terrible claw” is pretty awesome.

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About Author

Elissa Hill

Elissa is a junior public relations major and the managing editor of Onward State. She is from Punxsutawney, PA [insert corny Bill Murray joke here] and considers herself an expert on all things ice cream. Send questions and comments via e-mail ([email protected]) and follow her on Twitter (@ElissaKHill) for more corny jokes.

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