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THON Director Thursday: Meet THON 2019 Public Relations Director Maddy Hughes

Name: Maddy Hughes
Major: Comparative Literature B.A./M.A.
Global and International Studies B.A

Past THON Experience:
THON 2015 & 2016: Dancer Relations Committee Member
THON 2017: Public Relations Captain – Media Relations Team
THON 2018: Public Relations Captain – Media Relations Lead

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

I’m a citizen of New Zealand!

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

THON has a unique way of creating a sort of magic, one which illuminates light during times of adversity. I wanted to become a director to share this light with all those facing cancer, to tell the stories of our families and volunteers, and to be a part of creating the magic that grows each year. Having the opportunity to stand alongside such a passionate community has given me purpose during my time at Penn State, and I am excited to have the opportunity to finish my time here by devoting myself to such a special cause.

What are your responsibilities as the Public Relations Director?

As the Public Relations Director, I lead a team of 24 captains with a wide range of talents and responsibilities while overseeing the efforts of about 80 committee members. The Public Relations committee is tasked with being the voice of THON – through the stories we write, photograph, and film and the work we do to spread THON’s mission. Our role is to spread awareness for THON’s mission on a local, state, and national level, and our efforts are aimed at taking our fight beyond State College to inspire the public to join us in our fight against childhood cancer.

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

There are 16,500 student volunteers involved in THON, but just over 100 are a part of the Public Relations Committee. This year, I am aiming to learn how the Public Relations Committee can be the best resource to the entire THON Community by working with other committees and organizations to capitalize on the resources already available for spreading our mission such as DonorDrive,, and the THON Weekend Livestream presented by 46 LIVE. We are also aiming to educate outside stakeholders on our mission through the development of relationships with press outlets, influencers, and supporters. We hope to inspire and enable all volunteers and supporters to be ambassadors of THON and to help in spreading awareness of our mission and the fight against childhood cancer.

What makes the Public Relations Committee so cool, fun, and/or important?

The Public Relations Committee has so many different facets, and people with all sorts of specialized talents. Being a part of our committee, you are able to work with others to create new ideas for spreading THON’s mission, join in collaborative creative discussions, and learn from the wide variety of roles. These include pitching to national press outlets, designing graphics and billboards, capturing moments for our families through photograph and video, writing stories of our families, maintaining our brand through and our livestream, creating innovative ways to spread our mission, and much more.

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

For THON 2019, we hope to inspire all THON Volunteers and Supporters to help spread our mission. To do this, we aim to maintain the cohesiveness and strength of THON’s brand while continuing to find innovative ways to develop it, foster collaboration and conversation among THON Volunteers on the best way to spread THON’s mission, and improve our external outreach efforts to elevate THON to a national level through unique story-telling, utilizing the talents of all our volunteers, and engaging external supporters. Lastly, we hope to continue collaboration with the Family Relations Committee to ensure that we keep the Four Diamonds families at the core of what we do and the stories that we tell – reminding people of why we THON and showing people the importance of what we do.

Why do you THON?

Each year, I find that my reasons for being involved in THON shift and grow. I can always find a new reason to THON, and new relationship that inspires me to continue in our fight, or a new story that reminds me of why we continue this fight year after year. For me, it all comes down to the light that we provide in the face of adversity, and the way that we are able to create good out of something so terrible. Being a part of this light and magic is at the core of why I THON.

What’s your favorite THON memory?

During my final year of high school, I attended my first THON and watched as families performed in the talent show. Children dream of having the chance to be a rockstar, having thousands singing along with them – and at THON the students were bringing dreams to life. I knew then, the opportunity to come to Penn State and be a part of this community was one that I simply could not pass up.

Since my first time at THON, I have been filled with memories that can only come from a community like ours. From supporting some of my closest friends as they stood for 46 hours, to seeing the joy we bring to our families, I have been filled with memories that make my time as a volunteer something I cherish so deeply.

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

The one from Land Before Time. I think it’s an Apatosaurus? They seem nice.

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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 (ca[email protected]) and follow her @cassady_potts on Twitter.

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