Courtney O’Bryan Award Presented At THON
The family of Courtney O’Bryan greeted the Bryce Jordan Center on Saturday afternoon to share her story and present the Courtney O’Bryan Outstanding Volunteer Award in her honor.
O’Bryan passed away in 2011 on the way to a THON canning trip when the car she was traveling in slipped on black ice. This weekend marked the eighth year her family has memorialized her at THON.
Courtney’s father Bill O’Bryan explained how she was “your typical over-achieving kid” and how she got into THON by joining Sigma Delta Tau sorority right after she arrived on campus.
He fondly remembered how during her freshman year, on the day Joe Paterno was fired in 2011, Courtney called home to say she wouldn’t be attending the student riots that were about to ensue — much to his relief. The next day, however, she was unable to call them because she had lost her phone the night before while “participating in history and storming Old Main.”
The O’Bryans presented the award to Stella Yang, who wasn’t on hand to accept the award because she was on a job interview.
The award remembers Courtney ever February, but as Bill said, her life impacts him every day.
“We lost our angel, but she has found a way to connect with us and through Penn State,” he said. “Courtney has taught us so many things and helped us through the darkest days of our lives.”
Bill cited three specific lessons his late daughter has taught him, including how to smile, not to sweat the small stuff, and not to “cry because it’s over; smile because it happened.” The final lesson was Courtney’s high school senior quote and was written on the backs of the O’Bryan family’s t-shirts.
“If you met her for 10 seconds you’d remember for the rest of your life,” he said. “We need to smile because Courtney happened. Courtney happened in everyone’s lives she ever came across.”
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