THON Gains An Angel In Hope Westrick
The THON community gained an angel this weekend. Hope Westrick, a 14-year-old from York County, passed away Saturday morning at Penn State Hershey Medical Center after battling cancer for more than a year.
In this difficult time for her loved ones, it is important to recognize the significant impact that Hope had on those who were fortunate enough to know her. In January 2015, Hope and her family were paired with the sorority Alpha Xi Delta and experienced their first THON less than a month later. “Hope immediately became a little sister to everyone in our organization,” said Alpha Xi Delta THON Chair Ali Smith. “It’s so much more meaningful than a name on the back of a shirt THON weekend; She is a member of the family we created at Penn State.”
Over the next few months, Hope shared her overwhelming positivity with her sisters and their partners, Sigma Phi Epsilon. Throughout hospital visits, shopping trips, care packages from Ariana Grande, and make up sessions before school dances, Hope’s graciousness was not lost on those around her. The sisters of Alpha Xi Delta reflect on how Hope continually checked to make sure they was comfortable during visits to Hershey Medical Center, worrying about everyone but herself in the time that they spent together.
“Our goal as a THON org was always to make Hope smile,” Smith said. “Little did we know, that was exactly what she was trying to do for those around her.” At her 8th grade graduation, Hope fittingly received the Resiliency Award, putting into words the strength that her family and friends witnessed in her for years.
Hope’s parents, Robert and Nicole Maldonaldo, welcomed the THON organizations into their family with open arms and, in turn, gave Penn State students an immeasurable gift in the opportunity to get to know their daughter. Her brothers, Robert and Tyler, showed courage well beyond their years. All of Hope’s relatives continually stressed how thankful they were for our efforts, reminding us all why we THON.
Hope’s continual display of love, selflessness, and strength reminds us all to “always have hope,” in both her memory and continuing to fight for a cure.