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THON Director Thursday: Meet Hospitality Director Michelle Warner

Name: Michelle Warner

Major: Elementary Education

Committee: Hospitality

Past THON Experience:

Rules & Regulations Committee Member, Organization Family Relations Chair, Hospitality Committee Member, and Hospitality Captain

Name an interesting, weird, or quirky fact about yourself:

My family used to raise ducklings when I was younger. One time, one of the babies drowned in my pond, and my sister and I gave the duck CPR to save it. We named him Bill.

What made you want to apply for the Hospitality Director position for THON 2017?

Ever since I went to THON for the first time when I was in Kindergarten, I have wanted to be a part of the magic that takes place to make kids happy. When I finally arrived at Penn State, I immediately got involved. Every experience of the past three years has taught me so much, and motivated me to give back as much as I can so kids have the chance to grow up. My HOS Committee Member experience sophomore year got me hooked on HOS specifically. I loved that the Hospitality committee got to interact with so many people within, and outside of, the THON Community. During my year serving as a HOS Captain last year, I met a little boy in treatment at Hershey that impacted me in a whole new way. This boy had fought a very long and tough battle, and had lost hope. The next time I saw this boy was on the screen during the Celebration of Life video THON Weekend. From that moment on, I knew I had to do everything in my power to give back more to the cause: in memory of him, and all others that are facing such an unwarranted battle.

What are your responsibilities as the Hospitality Director?

The Hospitality Committee is responsible for securing all food and beverage donations for THON events, including THON Weekend. Alongside my Captains, I work with donors within and outside the State College community to acquire all these donations. I also oversee the organization of all meals for THON events.

What do you want to implement in your position this year that’s unique and differs from years past?

We are completely re-evaluating HOS’s timeline for meals and donation amounts, in hopes of cutting down on as much food waste as possible. While it is so wonderful to have the support of so many donors, we also would hate to waste the food that has so generously been donated. Several Dancer Meals are getting face-lifts in order to be more nutritionally balanced and appropriate for fueling the dancers. We are also focusing on Committee Member engagement and how we can utilize the dedicated and creative volunteers in new ways!

What makes the Hospitality committee so cool, fun, and/or important?

Hospitality never spends a penny on food or beverages for events. This is so important because it allows the money to go where it should: to the kids. Hospitality is not only vital to fueling the volunteers and families, but also a lot of fun! Nothing is better than handing a kid a piece of warm pizza and watching their eyes light up. Food makes people happy, and on HOS we are so grateful to be a part of that!

What are the overall goals you hope to reach with your committee for THON 2017?

My overall goals include cutting down food waste, stewarding our donors in the best way possible, engaging our Committee Members in new ways, and finally, working to better all meals for THON Weekend nutritionally.

Why do you THON?

I THON for countless reasons, but the first reason that comes to mind is for my future students. Becoming a teacher, I get to help kids in the classroom every day, and hopefully make a difference in their lives. Seeing children go through treatment and knowing that I can’t make them better is heartbreaking to me. I THON so that kids can be outside at recess playing with their friends, and not confined to their hospital rooms. I THON so that kids can dream about what they want to be when they grow up, and can live out those dreams. Every child deserves that.

What’s your favorite THON memory?

There are too many! One particular memory that has stuck with me is from sophomore year. I was a Family Relations Chair when my organization (SPSEA) got paired with the Morgan Smith family. Morgan was 10 months old at the time, practically a baby. The positivity that her parents showed after spending almost her first full year undergoing treatment was inspiring to say the least. Although we met the Smith family under poor circumstances, I am so thankful to know them. Morgan is now almost 3 years old, and watching her grow up has been the best.

Per Onward State tradition, if you could be any dinosaur, which one would you be and why?

Definitely the brachiosaurus! I loved Littlefoot from Land Before Time; I even had a stuffed animal of him! They are so graceful and nice.

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About the Author

Elissa Hill

Elissa was the managing editor of Onward State from 2017-2019. She is from Punxsutawney, PA [insert corny Bill Murray joke here] and considers herself an expert on all things ice cream. Follow her on Twitter (@ElissaKHill) for more corny jokes.

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