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THON Director Thursday: Meet THON 2020 Communications Director Olivia Galow

It’s that time of the year again. THON is on the horizon, and each week leading up to the big event, we’ll feature a new member of the THON 2020 Executive Committee.

THON isn’t just a one weekend event for committee directors. They put in plenty of work months in advance to make sure everything runs smoothly. The first THON Director Thursday this year features Communications Director Olivia Galow.

Name: Olivia Galow
Major: Communication Arts and Sciences 
Past THON Experience: Communications Committee Member, Communications Captain

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

My family has four puppies!

What made you want to apply for the Communications Director position for THON 2020?

From the day I attended my first meeting, I knew that THON was going to be my passion. I have had the most amazing leaders and role models who I will always look up to. I want to impact the THON community as they have.

A community is a group of people we lean on when times are tough: our friends, family, and neighbors who are there for us when we need love, support, and encouragement. When we come together as a community, anything is possible. I want to come together with the rest of the THON community to do everything we can to support children and families fighting childhood cancer.

THON is forever changing — through my years spent on the Communications Committee, I have seen it change, and I want to play an even larger role in that change. I want to share my passion for THON’s mission with future THON volunteers, empowering them to make a change. I want to work as a team with people who share this passion, putting our entire hearts into THON. 

What are your responsibilities as the Communications Director?

Communications has three facets: organizations, education, and outreach. As the Communications director, I lead a committee of 22 captains, who in turn lead 105 committee members and are the liaisons to all of the Penn State student body. As the Communications director, I bring the organization perspective to every meeting, to ensure that we are making decisions with one of our most important stakeholders in mind: our volunteers. I help to spearhead THON’s recruitment efforts to ensure that all students at Penn State are aware of the opportunities to get involved in THON.

I also help to ensure all of our student stakeholders are properly informed of THON’s history to be better ambassadors of THON’s brand. Other responsibilities include the THON Blood Drive, overseeing the THON Office, and captain and director sleep-shifts during THON Weekend. 

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

Something unique and different we did this year was an involvement group. This group was made up of THON 2020 Communications Captains and THON 2019 Communications Committee Members. Working together in the month of September, we were able to speak in many freshman seminar classes, have information tables daily, and attend various involvement fairs around campus in an effort to spread THON’s mission and educate the community on how to get involved in THON.    

What makes Communications so cool, fun, and/or important?

The Communications Committee has the opportunity to interact with all of THON’s student volunteers. Being in the THON Office is always something that we look forward to. There are hundreds of volunteers that circulate in and out of the office on a daily basis; from answering questions to handing out TREE bags, we get to help the THON Community in whatever way possible. It is so exciting to get to work alongside organizations and simultaneously help each others goals and visions for THON come to life!  

What are the overall goals you hope to reach with your committee for THON 2020? 

We are striving to foster an environment where everyone feels welcome and a part of the THON community, no matter their background. We want to build relationships with volunteers and ensure that they feel comfortable coming to us and know that their voice is being heard. Another goal is working together to make resources to better educate organizations and provide volunteers with the resources they need to be successful. We are so excited to work together and do everything possible to help make everyone’s THON experience the best it can be!

Why do you THON?

I THON for all families impacted by childhood cancer. I THON for my Aunt Cami, who was diagnosed with childhood cancer from a young age. I believe that every child deserves to live a long and full life, free from the pain and suffering of cancer.

Aunt Cami’s story is why I believe so strongly in driving change. In 1976, she was diagnosed with brain cancer when she was only six months old. This was a time when families were isolated upon diagnosis; there was no community outreach, no support system, and no financial assistance. Aunt Cami would spend long stretches of time at CHOP, and my grandparents, who could not afford a hotel room, would take turns sleeping in a chair next to her bed, sometimes for months on end. My grandparents had three other children at home who needed care as well.

Through my mom’s memories and stories of Aunt Cami, I developed a very strong desire to help children like her. No child should spend the night alone in a hospital room because of financial strain and no family should suffer alone because the community does not know or understand what they’re going through. Aunt Cami’s story ignited my passion for helping other children and families battling childhood cancer, and my time as a THON volunteer has only caused my passion to grow. I THON so that future children, like my Aunt Cami, who are diagnosed with childhood cancer fight with a community of love and support right alongside them. I THON for the day we dance in celebration of cure and no parent has to hear the words “your child has cancer.”

What’s your favorite THON memory?

My favorite THON memory happened at THON 2019 during the Mini-THON Outreach Event. This is an event where the Mini-THON Student Leaders come together to share their ideas and hear from different speakers. One of the speakers this year was Ken Shapiro who told his family’s story.

Ken’s high school was at the event and seeing him get up in front of his peers with such poise and share his family’s journey was truly inspiring. The way that Ken’s mom and sister looked at him is a look that I will never forget. They were so beyond proud of him and the moment he was done, they rushed up to embrace him in a hug, which is a memory that I cherish. Ken is an inspiration to not just me, but everyone in his high school and the THON Community as a whole. Ken and his family will always hold a very special place in my heart. 

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

I love to run so I would want to be a Ornithomimids because they are thought to have been the fastest dinosaur, running up to 30 miles per hour!

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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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