Penn State’s Board of Trustees commended the efforts of THON 2018 during its public meeting Friday afternoon at the Penn Stater.
“Over 10 million was raised to benefit children’s hospital and more than 15,000 students involved in this year round effort, Penn State pride was on full display last weekend,” Board of Trustees Chair Mark Dambly said. “The lives touched and long lasting personal impact of THON is something that endures.”
Dambly recognized Student Trustee Mike Hoeschele for attending the Road to THON celebration on behalf of the Board prior to THON Weekend. The Board then welcomed THON 2018 Executive Director Andrew Smith to discuss his role this year and all that THON has accomplished.
“My past year serving as Executive Director for THON 2018 has been life changing to say the least,” Smith said. “This past year I’ve learned some of the most important lessons of my life and it’s because of these experiences that I’ve had at Penn State that I’ve had this opportunity.”
Smith discussed the leadership challenges he’s experienced this year, in balancing the goals and vision of his executive committee with his own hopes to move THON into the future.
“I wanted to challenge everything that THON has traditionally done,” Smith said. “Some areas we were successful. We launched our first celebration campaign where we had a goal of raising $1000 in one week. We raised over $292,000. We grew our annual 5k by 1,000 runners. We took our One Day celebration and expanded it to Hershey to celebrate with children at the hospital. We launched DonorDrive, an online fundraising platform that was successful this year.”
But in addition to all the successes THON experienced this year, Smith also reflected on the times of failure his committee experienced, “when it seems like we take one step forward and three steps back.”
“It was those times that were the biggest test for myself an the executive committee. When everyone was stressed and feeling worn out, it was those times that I turned to why I was here,” he said. “I have a reminder set in my phone to go off at 10 a.m. every day. It says remember why you are here. When I was at a low, remembering why I applied, why I love THON, and why I wanted to be here in the first place would bring me back. I learned quickly that in this position, why I do something is just as important as what I’m doing. It’s not for me, not for the executive committee, it’s for the children and families that we support.”
Smith thanked everyone who has supported THON past, present, and future, and thanked the Board for ensuring Penn State students have the opportunities to get involved in efforts like THON.