Leah And Colleen Patrick: A Legacy Of THON Devotion
Leah and Colleen Patrick aren’t your ordinary Penn State students. This year is far from their first year of involvement in THON. In fact, they’ve been FTK for years, though this is only Leah’s second year at Penn State and the first for Colleen. The two sisters from Jamison, Pa. come from a family known for their involvement in THON. Their older brother, Ryan, was the THON Executive Director in 2014, and their older sister Megan was a Merchandise Captain that same year. Coming from a family of strong leadership in THON, Colleen and Leah Patrick are no different from their older siblings when it comes to their devotion to THON.
Colleen’s relationship with THON began four years ago, when she was first exposed to the organization through her brother Ryan’s first year of involvement in THON at Penn State. “I heard about it and it seemed awesome, but I didn’t know what to think of it until I went a year later for the first time,” she said. “I counted how many times I cried during the last four hours. It was like 17 times, and that’s when I decided to come to Penn State.”
Their enthusiasm for THON was funneled back toward their high school, Villa Joseph Marie High School in Southampton, Pa. There, Julia Lauer, now a Penn Stater as well, began a mini-THON. Lauer, knowing Leah and Colleen were exposed to THON, asked for them to join in the organization. Colleen served as a co-chair her junior year and as a chair her senior year, 2013 and 2014 respectively, for the Villa Jo Mini-THON. The mini-THON lasted eight hours in 2013, and raised an impressive $43,851.12. In 2014, the mini-THON increased in duration by two hours and raised $58,385.44. According to Colleen, this year’s total reached over $70,000, all going toward the Four Diamonds Fund.
“The mini-THON brought together my high school like nothing had ever done before,” Colleen reminisced. “We had a very tight sisterhood, a special gift to give with our closeness, but we didn’t have anything to put it towards, and we found that with Mini-THON.”
Because all the money raised went directly to the Four Diamonds Fund, Colleen was also able to get an sneak preview of the inside workings of the fund. “We went to a conference and got to learn about all different sides of Four Diamonds, not just Penn State THON.”
And now, Colleen is a member of the Rules & Regulations committee, and Leah is a Special Events Captain. Leah is currently at Hershey Medical Center helping with an event for the children who could not make it to University Park this weekend.
Though it’s not Colleen’s first year at THON, it’s her first as a committee member — yet that doesn’t seem to take away the magic of THON from her. “It’s magical to me. It’s unlike anything I’ve experienced. It’s corny, but when people who’ve never been to THON ask me to describe it, I’m speechless. I try but I know it’ll never get across.”
She continued, emphasizing her wish to spread the feeling and atmosphere of THON. “Everyone needs to experience it. I’ve always known that magic since I came to my first THON but now that I’m on a committee it’s awesome to see the bonds that form with people who are working towards the same cause. I did not expect to create the friendships I’ve created. It’s a gift.”
Photo: Leah Patrick