10 Questions With Ohana Logistics Executive Nikki Devito
Ohana is a Special Interest Organization that provides good vibes and “Aloha Spirit” to dancers, committee members, and spectators alike throughout THON weekend. We (figuratively) sat down with Nikki DeVito, Ohana’s Logistics Executive, for 10 questions.
Onward State: How many dancers is Ohana supporting this weekend?
Nikki Devito: We have 10 dancers this weekend.
OS: How long have you been involved with Ohana, or THON in general?
ND: I’ve been involved with Ohana for four years, since I was a freshman. I was also on R&R committee and Special Events committee my freshman and sophomore year (respectively). I also danced last year as a Junior for Ohana.
OS: Why did you pick Ohana your freshman year?
ND: They seemed fun and outgoing at the involvement fair, so I signed up on the Listserv and it stuck. I love the way everyone is so friendly and welcoming, and I just knew that that was my fit at Penn State.
OS: Do you plan to stay all 46 hours?
ND: Hopefully I’ll try to stay as long as I can this year. They tell the Exec Team to stay as long as possible, so I’ll give it my best shot. I’m probably going to give myself a little break — go home and rest for a few hours, and then come back for about 40 hours total.
OS: What is your favorite part about THON?
ND: Probably seeing how happy these kids are. Also, I love to see groups who say they “compete” during the year then become so close during this weekend. No matter who they are, everybody is friends and everybody is helping each other. I find that awesome that people can come together and do that.
OS: What’s your favorite THON memory?
ND: Last year when I was dancing, I never found out who the girl was, but somebody tapped me on the back and said, “our THON child LOVES your outfit, can she have a water gun fight with you?” I never got her name, but we had the best water gun fight ever.
OS: What is your biggest “wow” moment you’ve experienced with THON?
ND: When I danced last year, walking through the human tunnel was one of the best experiences of my entire life. There were thousands of people standing there, waiting for you to walk into the BJC, and then I saw Ohana standing there and THAT was my moment. I realized I was about to do one of the best things I could ever do for somebody.
OS: How do you tell your Org to prepare for the weekend?
ND: We have a “THON Survival Guide” that tells them everything to bring and everything to expect. We also have family shifts. Because Ohana is broken up into 10 families, we give the members of the Org a chance to go home and sleep, but we still have enough people in here. We tell everyone not to push themselves too much. Of course we want them to stay as much as they want, but if (they) don’t feel good or something is wrong, go home and get your rest.
OS: What do you think is unique about the THON special interest Orgs?
ND: What makes us different is that our entire purpose is to raise funds for the Four Diamonds Fund. At the same time, we’re able to give so much emotional support to our families. We have three amazing families, and I don’t think I would have the passion if it wasn’t for them giving so much to us. We put all of our effort into making sure that these families feel happy, safe, and have somebody to turn to in times of need.
OS: What is your favorite line or reference in the Line Dance?
ND: Ooh…I’m all about the dancing parts, so I’m all about the Shmoney dance. It’s probably everyone’s favorite but it’s definitely mine as well. It gets me going.