What Goes Into Making The THON Diamond Guide
THON requires a lot of hard work from students throughout the year to pull off successfully, and creating the THON Diamond Guide is no exception.
The Diamond Guide, in the eyes of this year’s two Diamond Guide Captains, is the THON yearbook that every weekend attendee needs. Megan Ross and Olivia Gleason put together the 84-page booklet for this year, hoping to spread uplifting stories and provide readers with all the information they need to know about THON and these upcoming 46 hours.
Ross is a fifth-year architecture major who danced for Club Ski her junior year after one of the club’s dancers came down with an illness before the weekend. That experience as a dancer was the spark that she needed to realize she wanted to become more heavily involved with THON.
Gleason, a junior and biobehavioral health major, has been on a THON committee since she arrived on campus as a freshman. Gleason said her mother always hoped she would get involved in THON because of a family connection to the cause. She moved first from the communications committee to dancer relations and now serves as a PR captain.
84 pages of THON material seems like an undertaking that only a substantial team could conquer. But that’s not how Ross and Gleason roll. The Diamond Guide is just a two-person effort. Over the course of the 2017-2018 school year, they’ve managed to put together an all-encompassing guide to THON.
“A lot of people don’t know that it’s just two people creating the whole thing,” Gleason explained with a laugh. “I’ve had people ask me, ‘Oh, what does your committee do?'”
There is no Diamond Guide committee.
“Basically, I design it and she writes it,” Ross said. “And then we interview families, organizations, other captains, and more.” This system works well, as Ross’ architecture background has exposed her to graphic design, while Gleason’s various past positions allow her to write about all sorts of topics.
Putting together the booklet is truly a year-long effort. At the beginning of the school year, both captains try to put together as many interviews as possible, but naturally, not every group has been assigned a family, not all fundraisers have been fully planned, and the like. Revisions, final layout changes, and any additions have to be made on an ongoing basis in what Ross described as a “constantly evolving” process.
This year’s Diamond Guide features interviews with a handful of families, an assortment of student organizations, a Penn State Harrisburg professor, and Commonwealth campus orgs.
Readers may notice that commonwealth organizations feature more prominently than in years past — that’s because both Gleason and Ross focused on featuring commonwealth orgs due to their influence on THON and fundraising efforts. One feature even looks into Penn State student Michael Healy’s fundraising effort — a 110-mile bike ride from State College to the Penn State Hershey Medical Center.
Another focus of this year’s edition is alternative fundraising. Ross and Gleason hope that highlighting interesting ideas when it comes to raising money will help spark creativity in the years to come. Putting together features, creating exciting themes, and generating all sorts of ideas is really just half of what it takes to make the Diamond Guide happen. Putting together a coherent format and design is another thing entirely.
“We really tried to focus on how THON brands everything,” Gleason said. “I think [Megan] did a great job. I’ve had people look over it and say that it looks so much like THON’s brand.”
Ross really can take credit for that design, which includes a cover page of an “innocent and pure” girl in a fairy costume which they believe captures the hope and magic of the weekend. The layout of content for the Diamond Guide goes a little something like this: the history of THON and the Four Diamonds story, a research spread from the Penn State Children’s Hospital, the year in review, and, finally, the upcoming 46 hours.
The two captains certainly work well together. They both had a lot of work to do to come up with features, put together interviews, and design the entirety of the guide. But Gleason’s passion for getting to know the people and organizations who are passionate about THON and Ross’s ability to sit in on interviews and design layouts and choose pictures that best represent these groups is essential.
“We also sat down together the first time we met to look through old Diamond Guides,” Gleason said. “We never had a disagreement about what we’d change and that really helped.”
If you’re hoping to bring home some piece of THON but you don’t know what, the Diamond Guide may be the right pick for you.
“It’s just the complete, tangible thing of what THON is,” Gleason continued. “It’s that tangible aspect of THON that you can actually flip through and read all about the year, the weekend, and what goes into it. It captures all of the moments of THON – the entirety of the weekend.”
Both captains, as you could imagine, are really looking forward to this weekend, from seeing how the different behind-the-scenes aspects of THON fit together to interacting with the kids and pumping up the dancers. Seeing the individuals and orgs featured in the Diamond Guide in action has both captains excited heading into the weekend.
Their efforts seem to have paid off, as preorders for the booklet skyrocketed this year by a factor of at least three. The preorder process allows heavily-involved individuals to order to Diamond Guide beforehand so they can focus on all of the other things they have to do throughout THON Weekend. Even families and corporate donors have found the Diamond Guide to be a useful tool to understanding all that goes into the experience.
You can buy your own Diamond Guide at THON for just $5. All proceeds benefit THON and you can grab yours around the Bryce Jordan Center at Merch Store C or in the info booths located near each gate.