THON Director Thursday: Meet THON 2020 Public Relations Director Dan Mele

Name: Dan Mele
Major: Marketing with a Digital Media Trends & Analytics Minor

Past THON Experience: 
THON 2017 Hospitality Committee Member 
THON 2018 Public Relations Media Relations Captain
THON 2019 Public Relations Social Media Captain

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

My mom was Lana Del Rey’s second grade teacher. 

What made you want to apply for the [committee] Director position for THON 2020?

Throughout my last four years as a THON volunteer, my passion for the organization and its mission have continued to grow. THON is special in that it is comprised of thousands of students giving their efforts to something greater than themselves.

I’ll never forget my freshman year THON Weekend when I stood in the center of the floor and looked around the Bryce Jordan Center to see the number of individuals standing together, united. That moment stuck with me as I applied to be a captain in the beginning of sophomore year, and for the following two years as I continued to learn more about THON’s history, the Four Diamonds families we benefit, and the importance of sharing THON’s mission with the world. I knew I wanted to give more of myself during my last year at Penn State and that applying to the executive committee would grant me that opportunity. I am so fortunate to be in this position and to make an even greater impact on this organization that I care so much about. THON has taught me that if you are passionate enough, you can truly accomplish anything you put your mind to. My passion for this organization and who we fight for will stick with me beyond my years as a student, and I look forward to continuing to support THON as an alumnus.

What are your responsibilities as the Public Relations Director?

As the Public Relations director, I lead a team of 24 talented captains skilled in media relations, social media, graphic design, video production, branding, promotions, publication writing, and photography as well as oversee the efforts of more than 80 committee members. 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. The Public Relations committee is fortunate to be tasked with spreading THON’s mission through sharing the stories that capture the magic of THON, through photography, video, our website, and more. 

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

This year the Public Relations committee is excited to bring some changes to a few projects that have been around for years. The first change is creating two publications throughout the course of the year. In addition to the THON Weekend magazine, known as the Diamond Guide, the Publication Management Captains are working to create an impact report to provide to donors which showcases the difference their donation makes. Additionally we are working with 46 LIVE to discover new ways to create the magic of THON through the THON Weekend livestream for those who cannot make it to the event in person. Lastly, rebranding THON’s goal-based campaign and introducing the Dream Forward Campaign back in October was such an exciting process and was able to tie numerous stakeholders back to THON’s mission. 

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

The Public Relations committee is multifaceted in that people with all sorts of skillsets ranging from creating animations to writing press releases, fall under one committee. No two individuals on the Public Relations committee bring the same talent to the table, but together we are able to collaborate on so many projects and initiatives throughout the year, and from that learn so much about each other’s roles. From those learnings, we have the unique opportunity to create new and innovative ways to spread THON’s mission. 

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

One of the ongoing goals of the Public Relations committee make sure all 16,500 of THON’s volunteers feel confident in spreading our mission. This year, the Public Relations committee aims to provide the THON community with more resources so that no volunteer feels lost on how to speak on behalf of our organization. Additionally, I want to challenge the way we’ve spread THON’s mission in the past and create new avenues for the stories of THON to be shared. With the constantly emerging world or digital media, it’s important that THON is able to stay current with our own platforms. This year, we’ve worked with the Technology committee to launch the THON Blog: Our Pursuit and with PNC to record a podcast with iHeart Radio. 

Why do you THON?

My reason for why I THON has changed with each year that I’ve been a volunteer. However, the one constant is my hope that every child will be able to accomplish their dreams in life. I look at the opportunities I have been fortunate to have such as attending Penn State and being involved with something as special as THON, and I would not want anyone’s opportunities be robbed from them due to cancer. 

What’s your favorite THON memory?

Filming a Family Focus Video over the summer and having the opportunity to spend the morning with the Evans Family and their daughter Aubrey was such a special opportunity. Hearing their story of how far they’ve come with their battle and how THON has supported them throughout their journey was incredibly moving. Realizing that I’ve been a volunteer throughout the entire time of their daughter’s treatment, I felt so fortunate to now have the opportunity to share their story of courage and resilience with the rest of the world.

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

I’d be Rex from Toy Story. Someone has to be the funny one in the group.  

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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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