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THON Director Thursday: Meet THON 2019 Development Director Katie Solomon

Name: Katie Solomon
Major: Criminology & Sociology, Smeal Certificate, Fundraising Leadership Certificate

Past THON Experience:                                                                             Springfield Benefiting THON                                                                                THON 2017: Dancer Relations Committee Member                                          THON 2018: Donor & Alumni Relations Development Captain

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

I played the tuba for eight years.

What made you want to apply for the Development Director position for THON 2019?

The first time that I was ever exposed to THON was through my sister, who is now a Penn State alumna. Before being on the committee last year, I did not know much about development but I did know that I wanted to work in a role through which I got to engage with supporters outside of the immediate State College community. The passion I was able to see for THON in people like my sister, no matter the distance, demonstrated a need to further make sure anyone can be a part of this incredible movement. Since then, I have fallen in love with the mission of the Development Committee. I believed that this is where I had the most ability to create an impact so I wanted to take my involvement to the next level by applying to be a director and have not looked back since.

What are your responsibilities as the Development Director?

As the director of development, I am primarily responsible for fostering relationships with THON’s growing donor base and empowering volunteers, friends, and supporters to take action in the fight against childhood cancer. The Development Committee oversees event sponsorship, the distribution of THONvelopes and Corporate Packets, serves as DAR liaisons to all student organizations and manages THON Nation, THON weekend tours, and donor stewarding and benefitting efforts.

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

One of my biggest goals going into this year was to refresh the Third-Party-Fundraising program to be more inclusive of donors and supporters, regardless of location or previous involvement. Over the summer we worked to create and implement this refresh which is now known as THON Nation. This new initiative invites and empowers alumni groups, individual alumni, and friends of THON to take action by creating a page on DonorDrive to fundraise in honor of a loved one, to celebrate a personal milestone, or by hosting their own event.

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

Development is a relatively new committee as we are only in our fourth year of existence. Because of our youth, we are still figuring out exactly what our role in the community is and how we can best further THON’s mission. As we look towards more sustainable, or long-term, methods of fundraising, development has a large hand in those efforts with putting plans in motion for donor acquisition, retention, and stewardship. The idea that our committee gets to set the tone for years of development yet to come excites and challenges me to constantly think forwardly about the future of THON.

What are the overall goals you hope to reach with your committee for THON 2019?

Ultimately, we want to spread the mission of the Development Committee to all THON volunteers. There are a lot of strategies we utilize that organizations and independent dancer couples (IDCs) can use in their own fundraising and outreach practices as well. This is currently being done through the liaison team that works tirelessly to best assist organizations and IDCs in their efforts. Additionally, we have held our first ever DAR chair workshop and are looking forward to hosting the follow-up event during the spring semester.

Why do you THON?

Last Halloween, I was able to visit the Hershey Medical Center for a tour. One of the first things we got to see was a young boy ringing the end of treatment bell and filling the “inspire” shadow box with glitter. We spent the rest of the day getting to know Four Diamond families and staff in the clinic. Despite being there for treatment, the spirits were high that day with candy, costumes, and friendship. That day was my first time at the hospital. The experience grounded me in our mission and efforts in a way that I will never forget. We are so lucky to be able to celebrate these powerful moments with our families and support them on their journies. I THON so that all families can ring the bell and for the day when that bell is just a distant memory.

What’s your favorite THON memory?

My first time at the Bryce Jordan Center was to support my sister who danced for Penn State Law in 2014. As just a sophomore in high school, I had never before seen anything like THON. Somewhere between washing my sister’s hair in a bathroom sink late Saturday night and watching the total reveal from the multi-sports complex, I fell in love with THON and all that it stands for. This past year, I was able to return the favor and invite my sisters to spend some time on the floor Saturday night. Getting to share that experience with them was very meaningful to me as we were able to reflect on the four years that had passed since the last time we had all been together in the Bryce Jordan Center.

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

Rex from Toy Story. I love Disney and I feel like it could be fun to be a toy.

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About the Author

Cassady Potts

Cassady is a junior English and journalism major and Onward State's Student Life Editor. She is from York, Pennsylvania and loves iced coffee, books, and women's volleyball. You can find her on campus by looking for the girl who always wears stripes. Feel free to send any questions, comments, or memes via email ([email protected]) and follow her @cassady_potts on Twitter.

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