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THON Director Thursday: Meet Executive Director Andrew Smith

Name: Andrew Smith

Major: Accounting

Past THON Experience:

THON 2014: Rules & Regulations Committee Member
THON 2015: Rules & Regulations Committee Member & member of the special interest organization Axis
THON 2016: Rules & Regulations: Volunteer Safety Captain
THON 2017: Rules & Regulations: Volunteer Safety Director
THON 2018: Executive Director

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

I was in a broadway play for 45 minutes when I was 10 years old.

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

Serving as the Volunteer Safety Director for THON 2017 was an absolutely incredible experience. I had the privilege of working with a fantastic group of Captains and the Executive Committee, who had become some of my best friends from our year together. I got to see a new perspective of THON through working with THON Chairs and getting to work with all of the other committees. Following the conclusion of THON Weekend last year, I was left feeling like I needed to do more for THON. I wanted to give everything I could to THON’s mission. I wanted to try to do everything I could to give every volunteer the amazing experience that I had. I wanted to contribute anywhere I could to furthering the mission of each committee and helping this organization grow.

What are your responsibilities as the [committee] Director?

As the Executive Director, my role is to help connect the dots between the other 16 committees, the organizations, and our professional contacts. I get to look at THON from a big picture prospective and help each Committee work towards our goals. One of the most fun things with my position is that I can work with each Committee and help them achieve their visions for the year. I serve as a liaison to several University and professional contacts as well that serve as a support system to THON.

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

This year one of my goals was to try to challenge what we do as an organization to figure out where we can improve. I wanted to look at our different processes, our events, and our fundraising efforts and look very critically at how we can improve. It’s very easy to fall into a pattern of doing things a certain way because “well that’s the way we’ve always done it”, and I tried to challenge that mentality this year. I also really wanted to try new things this year. I think we’ve experimented a lot this year with new events and new ways to fundraise. We’ve had a lot of ideas generated this year that we’ve tried to implement in some way, whether it’s the THON Weekend Dashboard, or the One Day Campaign. All of these are things that we set out to create to improve THON as a whole.

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

The Executive Committee is a ton of fun because you have the opportunity to take your vision and put it into action. Every now and then, we’ll find ourselves brainstorming and dreaming up these huge plans. And one thing I’ve loved about being on the Executive Committee this year is we have a ton of idea people who can develop new plans and then try to put them into action. I think the aspect of my position that is most fun is that you can take what starts as a small idea and build on it and refine it to the point where it’s a full-fledged plan. And then its on you to carry it out, and its awesome to see that plan come to fruition.

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

One of the biggest things I hope I’m able to accomplish with my position this year is to be able to inspire the next group of leaders within THON. I was always very fortunate to have Captains and Directors that pushed me and motivated me to do better. I hope that this year, this experience with THON leaves the next group of Directors, THON Chairs, Captains, everyone feeling inspired to keep pushing forward and keep working towards THON’s mission.

Why do you THON?

I’ve been very fortunate to have had the opportunity to be involved with THON for five years now. Each year, my level of involvement has grown and I’ve had so many wonderful experiences with this organization. Even though my role changed each year, I’ve always had one takeaway that remained consistent year to year – it’s that when everything is finished, I come out feeling more inspired by THON. Every day, I look around and am amazed to be surrounded by friends and peers that give so much of themselves for our mission. Regardless of their reason or their level of involvement, every single volunteer is contributing to the greater goal of this organization. To see the thousands of hours devoted by volunteers, to be surrounded by such hardworking and dedicated individuals is very inspiring to me. And then on top of that, I’ve seen families who take on one of the most difficult hands you can be dealt in life persevere despite any obstacle. They have an incredible strength and resiliency that I admire, and it motivates me to want to do as much as I possibly can to help. I THON because this organization has inspired me every single day I go into the office, because I have never felt so strongly about our mission, and because I cannot wait to see the day when no child or family ever has to battle cancer. That day is coming – and when it does, we won’t need to dance for a cure. Instead, we’ll dance in celebration.

What’s your favorite THON memory?

Two years ago during THON Weekend, R&R received an unusual call over our radio. Family Relations Captains were requesting help staffing the Kids Variety show and would need a few extra Captains to help. I volunteered to help and headed down to the South Annex. I would be escorting families and working security for the stage during the event. This was the first year I have been able to see the Kids Variety show in its entirety, and it immediately stands out as my favorite memory and my favorite stage event for THON Weekend. I love the Kids Variety show because for those few minutes that the kids are on stage, they get to be rock stars. They get to sing or perform whatever they want, and the crowd goes absolutely nuts when they’re done. And if anyone was too shy to sing, the entire crowd would join in singing to help them along. I think it’s those moments that show just how amazing the entire THON Community is. Every single spectator in the BJC is uniting to support those kids, and it is awesome to see.

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

Sticking with the ankylosaurus, I just like them

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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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