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THON Director Thursday: Meet Hospitality Director Leah Freeark

Name: Leah Freeark

Major: Marketing

Past THON Experience:

Rules & Regulations Committee Member for THON 2015
Hospitality Committee Member for THON 2016
THON Chair for Sign Language Organization for THON 2016
Hospitality Dancer Meals Captain for THON 2017

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

I am learning American Sign Language so, after graduation, I can volunteer as an interpreter!

What made you want to apply for the Hospitality Director position for THON 2018?

I wanted to apply for Hospitality Director last year at THON Weekend itself. Throughout the year, I knew I wanted to continue to be a part of the Hospitality Committee because of my passion for what we do, but during THON Weekend I saw the tangible changes that HOS could make to become stronger and support THON better. When thinking about these updates, I wanted to take further action and become more deeply involved and ingrained in THON and Hospitality’s missions. I am thankful for all of the lessons that this position has taught me thus far about THON, but I am also grateful to get to work with the amazing people that I do for a cause so much bigger than myself.

What are your responsibilities as the Hospitality Director?

I would say that, as a Captain, you have a focus on specific responsibilities within your committee. For instance, I worked all last year on improving the quality of Dancer Meals. As the Hospitality Director, my job is to take a hands on approach to all aspects of the Hospitality committee, as well as to support HOS Captains and work towards new and larger goals for the committee as a whole.

As the Hospitality Director, what do you want to implement in your position this year that’s unique and differs from years past?

In previous years, we have always had a set way of performing our yearly responsibilities. While many of these methods are tried and true, there are always new improvements that can be made. Whether that be with added nutrition to meals, committee member engagement, sustainability initiatives, benefitting donors properly for all that they do for us, etc. I am looking to bring ideas from HOS Captains and Committee Members to life.

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

The Hospitality committee provides a unique side and benefit to THON. Members of THON fundraise all year long to contribute to the total, and we work on soliciting food and beverages donations for all pre-THON events and THON Weekend so that any money we would typically need to spend can go straight to the total and the kids. We help contribute to the 96 cents of every dollar that goes to the Four Diamonds, and each year we continue to expand the list of wonderful companies who are willing to help us accomplish that.

What are the overall goals you hope to reach with your committee for THON 2018?

This year, I am looking to bring more organization and nutrition to the Hospitality committee. We are currently working on more cohesive inventory systems so that we can decrease our waste and improve sustainability, and we are also creating a schedule in order to increase committee member optimization during pre-THON events and THON Weekend itself. Also, we do a great deal of work throughout the year to ensure that the Dancer Meals for THON Weekend are as healthy and nourishing as possible, but this year, I am looking to improve the nutritional quality of all meals so that we can fuel the entire fight to the best of our abilities.

Why do you THON?

I THON so that every child is able to be as carefree and joyful as they are THON Weekend. I THON so that every child can have the opportunity to grow up and live their life to the fullest. I THON so that each volunteer can be impacted by something much greater than themselves, and learn to be thankful for all of the many problems that they will never have to worry about. I THON so that every child can live the life they deserve to be living, and I THON for all of the families who just want their healthy kids back.

What’s your favorite THON memory?

My favorite THON memory each year is at the beginning of THON Weekend when the dancers stand. In that pivotal moment of the event, there are thousands of student volunteers dressed in every color and logo. Each student is full of excitement, passion, and wonder for all that we can accomplish within that weekend and within that year. For those who have never experienced THON before, that is often the magical moment where they “get it.” I have been fortunate enough to witness it each year, and I cannot wait to see all of the enthusiasm and dedication we can bring to THON 2018.

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

I would be a pterodactyl because I would love to be able to fly and visit many different places!

About the Author

Elissa Hill

Elissa is a junior public relations major and the managing editor of Onward State. She is from Punxsutawney, PA [insert corny Bill Murray joke here] and considers herself an expert on all things ice cream. Send questions and comments via e-mail ([email protected]) and follow her on Twitter (@ElissaKHill) for more corny jokes.

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