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Former THON Dancer Jenna Loffredo To Head Relay For Life

Jenna Loffredo danced to the point of utter exhaustion in THON 2015, but her goal to fight cancer did not stop at the end of 46 hours. Loffredo is the Executive Director for this year’s Relay For Life of Penn State. Volunteers for the event join the fight against cancer by creating fundraising teams, and the event is currently the world’s largest fundraising effort against cancer.

“We work year-round to advocate for governmental funding for research expansion, fundraise to ensure families receive the support they need throughout their course of treatment, and spread awareness that the fight against cancer never stops,” Loffredo said. “In Relay, we hold a 24-hour event to show that cancer does not sleep, so neither do we.”

This year’s Relay For Life will take place from 2 p.m. April 9 to 2 p.m. April 10, and will be located on the HUB lawn for the first time. Loffredo hopes the new location will attract more students, encourage community involvement, and educate the community about the inner workings of the American Cancer Society.

A day in the life of an executive director, Loffredo said, is a day filled with organization and facilitation. Some of her responsibilities include enforcing deadlines on committee work, implementing ideas from members, and working to organize a successful event overall. Despite some pretty daunting responsibilities, however, it’s not entirely work without any play.

“I [also] work with the Child Development and Family Council out at Ferguson Elementary in their before-school program,” Loffredo said. “The kids remind me to relax everyday and to remember that the biggest issue of the day really could be that someone broke a crayon.”

Before being named as Executive Director of Relay for Life, Loffredo joined the fight against cancer in a slightly different way — she stood on her feet for 46 hours as a THON dancer. Consequently, THON remains one of her biggest sources of inspiration to fight for a cure.

“THON 2015 was filled with endless smiles, happy tears, numerous bagels, and more than 46 line dances (and somehow I still couldn’t get it down),” Loffredo said. “My DRCM transformed me into Elsa with the best cape THON has ever seen, and I felt like I could stand for another 46 hours.”

Jenna Loffredo - Relay for Life
Jenna Loffredo dancing at THON 2015. (Photo: THON)

How did just one person become so involved with the fight against cancer? It was nearly impossible for Loffredo to pinpoint her personal motivations.

“It was a combination of loved ones’ experiences, stories of survivors overcoming cancer, and the desire to bring together the community to fight for a common cause,” she said. Her desire to become involved never truly stops. Throughout her time as a student at Penn State, Loffredo has always strived to become even more involved with the cause than the year before.

“Each year of involvement within Relay strengthened my desire to give back to the best of my ability,” she said. “Whether it was donating my hair or walking miles towards a cure, I wanted to give my time to those who wish they could have more.”

After graduating in May, Loffredo plans to pursue a doctorate degree in audiology. Of course, she still plans to squeeze Relay for Life into her busy calendar whenever possible. She hopes to serve on Relay for Life’s Overall Committee in order to continue her involvement with the cause.

“From a Penn State perspective, I look forward to seeing how the event grows both in this upcoming year and for the future,” she said. “As a young organization, we look for ways to improve our event from a fundraising and awareness aspect. I hope I can bring my ideas and lessons I have learned from Penn State to help improve Relays around the nation.”

About the Author

Claire Fountas

Claire Fountas is the student life editor for Onward State, as well as a junior pursuing a double major in journalism and psychology. She lives in a suburb of Chicago and strongly disagrees with anyone who hates the Cubs or the Blackhawks (so, pretty much anyone at Penn State). You can follow her @ClaireFountas or email her at [email protected]

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