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THON Director Thursday: Meet OPP Director Matt Morgan

Name: Matt Morgan

Major: Supply Chain & Information Systems

Past THON Experience:

THON 2015: OPP Committee Member
THON 2016: OPP Committee Member
THON 2017: OPP Set Up/Tear Down Captain

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

When I was 12, I threw a no hitter, and that was when I peaked athletically.

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

Each year since my freshman year, once THON Weekend concluded, I felt a need to do more for THON. I have never been apart of an organization where truly I believe so deeply in the mission that it stands for. I felt the calling to do more after my sophomore year which led to me applying to be a Captain. After last year, as another magical THON Weekend drew to a close, I still felt that calling to do more and give back to this organization and to these families as much as I possibly can. That’s what drove me to apply for Director. I’m humbled to have been selected, and I have been giving my everything to THON, OPP, and the Four Diamonds children and families.

What are your responsibilities as the OPPerations Director?

As the OPPerations Director, I work with 21 Captains and over 770 committee members to logistical plan the THON 5K, Family Carnival, and THON Weekend. We work together to ensure each event has a safe and healthy environment for all spectators and volunteers, and most importantly, for the Four Diamonds children and families. I assist in the planning of each of these events and oversee the set up, maintenance, and tear down. I also partake in THON’s sustainability initiatives, such as the THON Recycling and Environmental Effort (TREE) and pushing to become a zero waste organization.

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

This year, my biggest focus has been developing more sustainable practices within the THON community. From reaching zero waste status at our different events, to educating volunteers on sustainability, to increasing participation in TREE, I have been focusing on increasing THON’s sustainable efforts with the goal that we become recognized as a zero-waste organization. OPPerations has been the home of THON’s sustainable efforts for a while, but all THON volunteers can get involved. From Supply Logistics and Hospitality working with donors to receive eco-friendly supplies, to Dancer Relations and Rules and Regulations reminding dancers and spectators to recycle, to organizations recycling aluminum cans in our fundraising-recycling campaign TREE, everyone can play a role in making THON a more sustainable organization.

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

One of the coolest thing about OPPerations is that we get to transform the BJC into THON’s home and experience THON Weekend from beginning to end. We arrive at the BJC bright and early Friday morning to lay down mats, set up dancer storage units, unload Penskes with all our supplies for the weekend, and more. During the weekend, we maintain the building by managing all waste, keeping bathrooms and facilities clean and safe for spectators, volunteers, dancers and children, and mop the floor and concourse. Once THON Weekend ends, we roll up all the mats, tear down pipe and drape throughout the building, and clean the BJC from top to bottom so it’s ready for its next event.

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

My main goal this year is to reach zero waste status at each pre-THON event and THON Weekend. To be considered zero waste, we must have a diversion rate of 80% or higher. That means we need to divert at least 80% of the waste we produce at our events away from landfills, so they can be properly recycled. We have already achieved that distinction at the 5K, and I have high hopes we can do the same at Family Carnival and THON Weekend. While OPP does waste management for each of these events, all volunteers and spectators can help in becoming zero waste! Taking an extra moment to properly dispose of waste at THON events will help us tremendously as we strive to make THON a more sustainable organization.

Why do you THON?

I THON so that one day we won’t have to. I THON to support the Four Diamonds children and families until the day arrives that cancer is a thing of the past. These kids are the biggest inspiration in my life and make want to help them in any way that I possibly can. These children and families did nothing to deserve the situation they’ve been dealt, so I will fight alongside them until they have won their battles and have the chance to just be kids again.

What’s your favorite THON memory?

My favorite THON memory will always be first shift at my first THON Weekend. THON 2015 was only a few hours old, and my committee was responsible for putting all the dancer tables on the floor. We made our way from the concourse down to the event floor, all the while I’m poking my head in the portals to try to catch a glimpse of the excitement on the floor. We finally make it the floor, my Captain reminds us of what our task was, opens the door, and my jaw dropped. There were colors and people everywhere. The line dance was being taught, kids were running around with water guns and balloons, thousands of people were all standing for the same cause, and I fell in love with the magic of THON. I will never forget the amount of energy and excitement that I felt in that moment.

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

To be honest, I was stumped on this one, so I took a Buzzfeed quiz and got Velociraptor.

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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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