Veteran Special Interest Orgs Keeping it Real to Keep Their Numbers
Veteran THON Special Interest Organizations are arguably the beasts of THON. Year after year these organizations dominate the fundraising totals for the event because after all, they exist to participate in THON. But how do the leaders keep their organization from getting stale to prospective members? We set out to find out with some of the bigger Special Interest Orgs.
By far the largest special interest organization, Atlas was the first organization to eclipse the $1 million dollar mark by themselves last year. This year the organization plans to incorporate many different mini-games and events throughout the weekend. The org plans to hold its first “This Hour in Ducks” event at some point this weekend, but are mum on when it will actually take place. They also plan on holding a “selfie” contest throughout the weekend, a la a 0#THONSelfie Olympics. Better yet, they will also be having an ongoing photobombing contest, so the flashes will be going off in Section 121 throughout the weekend.
According to President Mike Stanowski (who is also dancing this weekend), the organization is grateful to have other special interest orgs joining the THON landscape.
“It’s great to have other organizations coming to us for help,” said Stanowski. “We’ve been working closing with Tetra to get them on the right track while they are starting out.”
Leaders of Ohana are also coming up with creative ways to keep their organization strong. Ohana means family and the organization is split into 10 smaller “families” kind of like committees. According to President Alex Radkoff, this makes members feel like their not a number. Instead, they have 300 “brothers and sisters” who make up their larger family.
For the final four hours of THON, Ohana plans on doing something totally original to THON. They plan to create an “O-Zone” a la the famous S-Zone organized by the Lion Ambassadors at sporting events. They also plan on rewarding their most active members with preferential seating for the final four strong year after year.
Springfield THON, a special interest group which stemmed from the Schreyer Honors College, does things a little differently in the stands. Just like the dancers on the floor have a moraler, Springfield has a Stands Morale Captain who “keeps everyone upbeat by getting them snacks, drinks, and stretching them.” They also create a “stands dance” and a massage line.
Springfield also holds a t-shirt hour during the pep rally where members write inspirational quotes on each other’s shirts so that they have a reminder of why they are there during the final few hours of THON.
“Squirt guns and balls are really important to keeping everyone involved in the event,” President Mark Goldy-Brown explained. “We just had a half hour squirt gun battle with Atlas and we try to make everything fun.”
Apollo, one of the younger special interest organizations, focuses on friendships to keep the group together. Like Ohana, they have “squads” within the organization to ensure that its members get to know each other better. “If members have friends in our organization, it more likely that they will stay since people are more likely to stick with their friends,” said President Louisa Fitzgerald.
Although the organization is only three years old, they organize the stands like seasoned veterans. During the weekend, Apollo has themes for certain parts of the day. They have already had a beach/luau theme, Harry Potter theme, and are going to have a theme related to their namesake, space.
“We have games like human PAC-MAN in the stands and other ones for each theme which make the time go faster,” Fitzgerald said.
Pillar is following a similar formula to Springfield in the stands. The organization’s THON Mom and Dad bring the members snacks, signs, and choreograph dances just like Springfield’s Stands Morale Captain. Their main goal is to keep everyone in the stands in Section 106 upbeat, and ready to learn a new dance at will.
“They’ve done an awesome job keeping us dancing so far,” said President and dancer Kate Hallinger. “That’s all we can ask for.”
Hallinger also mentioned the support that every other special interest organization has given to each other. This is in sharp contrast to what many believe to be rival organizations. She specifically mentioned Tetra, a new org this year, and how every other org stepped up to the plate to help them get their feet off the ground. That sentiment was repeated by every leader of the major special interest orgs. They all agreed that ideas need to be spread around in order for their work as a whole to succeed. After all, they are all striving for the same goal.
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About the Author
Do you yearn for cigarette ash-dusted grilled cheeses from “quintessential shithole” Grillers? Or a night out at G-Man with your old frat bros? Or have evenings of drinking felt incomplete ever since Canyon moved across Beaver and got rid of its sticky blue picnic tables?
It’s hard not to draw parallels between this year’s lacrosse team and a couple other Nittany Lion teams that have used the City of Brotherly Love as a launching pad to sustained success.
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