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THON Overall Series: Will Martin, OPPerations

As a part of Onward State’s commitment to help establish more immediate access to THON to the Penn State community, of which it is such a huge part, I have conducted a series of interviews with the each of the 2011-2012 overalls. These are the students who have taken the initiative to lead this organization, so may we all take a moment to learn from their words and help implement their ideas into our continued fight against pediatric cancer. May we always “Brighten Every Journey.”

Onward State: Summarize some of the responsibilities of the OPPerations Committee, and then the role you play as the Overall within those responsibilities.

Will Martin: I have 21 captains, and over 730 committee members. Our main job throughout the year, prior to THON Weekend, is setting up and tearing down all pre-THON events. That includes the THON 5K and the Family Carnival. We also ensure the safety and sanitization of those areas. That includes trash and cleaning up. We have a mat cleaning in the fall, where we scrub all the mats that are used on the floor of the BJC throughout the year. It’s actually a cool event. We set up slip-and-slides and make it fun for everyone. But it’s a vital part for the success of THON because we can’t have Four Diamonds Children and Families crawling on dirt from previous years.

On THON Weekend we are in charge of transforming the Bryce Jordan Center to what we know as THON. This takes a lot of logistical planning throughout the year. This includes bringing all THON supplies into the Bryce Jordan Center, setting up the floor, and dancer storage areas. It’s just a very big puzzle with a lot of pieces.

As the OPP Overall, I basically oversee my 21 captains, and they all have specific, respective positions that make everything work. My biggest role is the relationship with the Bryce Jordan Center. I work closely with some of the staff there who let us use the building for the weekend to keep a strong relationship because they are vital to the success of THON. We have meetings throughout the year just talking about our ideas, and they have some great ideas for us, and we work together to make it all come together.

OS: What made you want to take on the position of Overall of the OPPerations Committee?

WM: I have been very OPP central in my THON experience. I was an OPP Committee Member my freshman year in 2009, a Captain in 2010 and 2011, and now I am the Overall. I just think THON has given me so much throughout the years; I have really grown, it has shaped my leadership style, really defined my Penn State experience. I think that this was my opportunity to really give back to the organization and really inspire others to have the same experience that I did. I know that Penn State is a very big campus, and we always say that THON is a great way to make Penn State a small campus. You get to meet a lot of people and really get to find your niche. I feel like throughout the years I’ve really gained all of that, and it’s my opportunity now to really inspire others. Also, I feel like I have some really great ideas for the future, and for the success of THON.

OS: What are you looking to change/do differently this year with the OPPerations Committee to help improve it?

WM: For OPPerations, we really focus on our committee member experience. Since we do have a massive amount of committee members, they all experience THON, maybe, in a different way, but we always want them to have a very similar experience in the sense of a feeling of enjoying THON, and enjoying their committee and the family atmosphere. My captains are really focusing on improving that experience for the future, and encouraging people to want to join OPP.

I am also perfecting the setting up and tearing down of events. There’s a lot that goes into getting everything organized, and I think every year we have improved on it greatly, and I think just perfecting that and making it even easier on our volunteers. And working with the Bryce Jordan Center to make them as happy as possible.

OS: What moment or moments are you most looking forward to during this upcoming THON year? Be as specific or vague as you want.

WM: I think what I’m most excited for is seeing my captains, and seeing how they are going to grow throughout the year. How they are going to evolve as leaders, and how they are going to inspire their committee members because they are what really makes THON happen. I think it’s really exciting to see them grow throughout the year; really inspire others, and I feel like that really adds up to what’s going to make everything possible through the year, throughout the 5K, throughout the Family Carnival, and into THON Weekend. How we are all so many different people who come from different communities, different backgrounds, but at the same time, throughout the year, that building up really is what makes us so successful.

OS: Why do you THON?

WM: I THON for any family that has to see their child go through the pain of cancer. I think we take advantage of life every day with what we’re given. These families have to basically drop everything they have for the sake of keeping their child healthy and alive, so I think I THON mostly for those families. They’re the inspirations; they’re the reason we spend countless hours managing and logistically planning, countless hours scrubbing mats. They’re the overall theme of everything we do.

OS: Name an event or two that you think will make this year’s Line Dance.

WM: There’s a lot that has already happened so far. I think the 10th anniversary of 9/11 will be a big theme. Maybe just a cameo in it because it brings us all together, in a different way other than THON. But it should be recognized.

OS: Finally, if you could be any dinosaur, which one would you be, and why?

WM: I think I would be a Brontosaurus because I think they move slowly, but they have a simple life, and they’re pretty big so no one messes with them. They just kind of hang out and they like to eat leaves.

OS: Great answer. Also, Kinjal told me to ask you about Nickelback…

WM: I’m a Nickelback fan. Which, no one else is, so… It’s a classic band. I grew up listening to it. And it’s always close to my heart. No matter what anyone says, they can’t break that from me.

For more information on THON 2011-2012, make sure to check out the installments of the Overall Series: Merchandise, Hospitality, Morale, Technology, Donor & Alumni Relations, Rules & Regulations, Public Relations, CommunicationsSupply Logistics, & Special Events, as well as my 10 questions with THON Overall Elaine Tanella. Also, catch up on the rest of the recent THON content: Social Media Pledges Raise Thousands, THON on the TODAY Show, Get Fit for THON Weekend, Color Wars Kick Off, How-To Dancer Mail, 2012 Dancer List, THON Announces Canning Workshops, Mr. & Mrs. THON, Johnson & Johnson Dedicated to THON, THON 2012 Theme, FT5K 2011THON 2012 ThemeOverall Life Lessons2011 Summary of Fundraising ActivitiesCanning Map Weekend #1Canning “Do”s & “Don’t”sNew to THON, Canning Weekend #2 Tips, Go Green FTK.

About the Author

Ryan Kristobak

Hailing from Lebanon, PA, I am a senior majoring in print journalism. Things I enjoy include lovesacs, denim, mullets, Fight Milk, Jonny Moseley, and "hang in there" kitten posters. Things that bother me include "fun" sized candy bars (not fun), fish, shoobies, wet door knobs, baby leashes, and Jake Lloyd.

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