THON Director Thursday: Meet THON 2020 Family Relations Director Luke Mallon

Name: Luke Mallon
Major: Corporate Innovation and Entrepreneurship 

Past THON Experience:
THON 2018 Dancer Relations Committee Member
THON 2019 Family Relations Bereaved Family Contact Captain

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

I once fell 30 feet while rock climbing and fractured three vertebrates!

What made you want to apply for the Family Relations director position for THON 2020?

The THON community has been such a significant part of my life these past two years. The impact it has had on me as person is immeasurable. I’ve learned so much as a volunteer and as a leader, but beyond that, THON — and specifically Family Relations — has become a home for me. I’ve met some of my closet friends and made some of my most cherished memories because of THON. There was a point in my life and my time here at Penn State where I felt alone, not sure where I belonged or what my purpose was. It was through THON I found purpose and a home I could invest myself in, and that’s been my goal.

I wanted to apply to be the Family Relations director because I wanted to give as much as myself as I could. I wanted to help support and build a community, a home, that has meant so much to me. I also wanted to spread as much light and joy to our Four Diamonds Families as I could. To these families, THON is a beacon of light during life’s darkest times, and I want to do everything in my power to brighten that light and spread it to every family in need.

What are your responsibilities as the Family Relations director?

The responsibilities of the Family Relations director are to ensure families remain at the heart of the THON Community. The director, along with the 25-person Family Relations committee are responsible for facilitating interactions amongst volunteers and families, running meaningful family programs to participate in, working alongside other committees to ensure all of our events are fun and meaningful for families, and to facilitate family-organization relationships through the Adopt-A-Family program. Simply put, the director is responsible for fostering a community of emotional support for all Four Diamonds families.

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

One thing we continuously strive for is inclusion of families of all ages. We have some incredible events and opportunities for kids, but we are striving to really develop our teen programs. Last year, we introduced the THON Engagement and Empowerment Network (TEENetwork). The TEENetwork set up the foundations of teen involvement not only at THON events, but in the planning and execution of them as well. This year we are introducing the Teen Forum, a platform where teens will be able to learn and collaborate with captains and directors. We are excited to continue to make THON a community of support and fun for teens.

What makes Family Relations so cool, fun, and/or important?

Family Relations is so cool because we can be witnesses to so much love and hope. We are amazed to see and hear of the incredible relationships families have built with volunteers. Being able to help facilitate interactions between families and volunteers and to see just how big of an emotional impact we have on our families is truly special.

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

This year, I want to make sure that we can connect as many volunteers as possible to the root of our mission: the families. I’ve been working alongside many to create meaningful responsibilities for the committee member Family Relation chair position. Through these developments, it’s our goal to give these volunteers meaningful interactions with families and the ability to spread the strength our families with the rest of their committees. We are also working alongside organizations through the Adopt-A-Family program to work to incorporate as many members of an organization to their families to create meaningful relationships that last through college and beyond.

Why do you THON?

I THON for so many reasons. First and foremost, I THON for a cure. I have seen too many families face loss and pain because of cancer. I THON to give the kids who are fighting this battle the chance to smile, laugh, and just be a kid. I THON for the Angels, that their strength and fight may never be forgotten. I THON in memory of my mom who danced in ’85 and ’86, to continue her selflessness. I THON to give families the chance to look back on their journey though cancer and remember moments of joy and happiness.

What’s your favorite THON memory?

Every year during Family Hour, the Celebration of Life video is played and the BJC joins arm and arm to stand with our Angels. Last year, I was one of two Bereaved Family Contacts. My co-captain Dylan and I spent the year bringing the strength and spirit of all those that we lost into the THON community. Together, with the entire THON community, we were able to see every Angel’s personality and smile. We felt their spirit and strength at its fullest. These kids remain the center of our mission and their strength continues to fuel our fight against cancer. The Celebration of Life is a time not just to remember them, but truly celebrate their lives and their time with us. Knowing the impact they have on every person there left me in awe.

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

I would be an Apatosaurus! Growing up I loved the Land Before Time movies, and Little Foot was my favorite character. The FR director picking a character from a kid’s movie – shocker.

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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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