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THON Director Thursday: Meet THON 2021 OPPerations Director Lindsay Traino

Name: Lindsay Traino
Major: Middle Level Mathematics Education with a minor in Special Education

Past THON Experience
THON 2018: OPPerations Committee Member
THON 2019: OPPerations Committee Member
THON 2020: OPPerations Captain – Set Up Tear Down

Name an interesting, weird, or quirky fact about yourself:
My ankles constantly crack.

What made you want to apply for the OPPerations Director position for THON 2021?

Being involved with THON has been the highlight of my college career. I first joined THON my freshman year and instantly fell in love with the Big Blue Family and all it had to offer. Last year, I served as an OPPerations Captain where I led a committee of 35 student volunteers. As a Captain, I had the opportunity to unite a group of students from all different backgrounds and interests to achieve one common goal – to improve the lives of those fighting hard to beat childhood cancer.

Through this experience, I built life-long relationships with my co-captains, committee members, and fellow student volunteers. Each team member brings their own experience and style, when combined, creates an amazing committee who can come together for a cause much bigger than themselves. I wanted to become a Director and give back a little bit of what this organization gave me. As a member of THON’s Executive Committee, I am able to help this organization grow and improve as we push forward in this fight.

What are your responsibilities as the OPPerations Director?

As the OPPerations Director, I am responsible for managing and supporting 21 captains and about 500 committee members. My job throughout the year is to create and maintain a safe and healthy environment for the Four Diamonds Families and THON volunteers at all pre-THON events and THON weekend. Through great dedication, determination, and hard work, the OPPerations committee logistically plans and prepares for a year of events culminating in the transformation of the Bryce Jordan Center into THON’s home. The OPPerations committee also plays an integral role in enacting THON’s sustainability initiatives, including the goal of becoming a zero-waste organization.

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

This year, I along with the 21 OPPerations Captains put a large emphasis on
Committee Member Engagement and fundraising. Due to the nature of this year, most of our classes are online and our meetings are being held via Zoom, and I didn’t want to lose that feeling of that family-like atmosphere. We are constantly brainstorming new ways to engage our volunteers that are more than simply staring at their computer screens. Additionally, I wanted OPP to continue our fundraising efforts to help spread our mission and ensure funding for our Four Diamonds Families and critical research. We have come up with a bunch of new and exciting fundraising opportunities for not only our Committee Members but for OPP Alumni as well.

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

The best part about OPP is the people. The work OPP does is not always
glamorous, and yet every single one of our volunteers is passionate about what we do. Whether they are asked to take out the trash, clean the bathrooms, or perform a mopping during THON Weekend, they are always taking on these tasks with a smile and embracing their role in it all. OPPerations wouldn’t be as great as it is without the dedication and attitude that all 500+ volunteers have. We care about the work we do as much as the people we do it for.

What are the overall goals you hope to reach with your committee for THON 2021?

Through years of excellent leadership and transitioning, the OPPerations Committee has been able to get so many of its responsibilities down to a science. From mat cleaning to meeting agendas, OPP has templates and guides for each year’s committee. However, this year there was no perfect answer on how to approach our jobs. My goal for the OPPerations committee has been to think outside the box and seek new possibilities. We took the time to look at the structures that exist within our committee and found ways to improve them. These improvements were crucial to this THON year but were also important to set THON 2022 up for success.

Why do you THON?

My answer to this question changes with each experience I have had in this
organization. But a constant throughout my four years is that I THON for the families that I have met along the way and the impact that we have on them. I THON to give kids a chance to change the world. I THON to ensure that every kid has a childhood. I THON for our angels that are gone too soon. I THON so that one day we can dance in celebration of a cure. I THON for a better future.

What’s your favorite THON memory?

Last year at the Family Carnival, my co-captains and I played duck-duck-
goose with a few kids in the middle of the gym. We kept playing round after round because the kids were having a blast and did not want to stop. It was
such a magical moment to watch these kids each get a turn to chase us (in
their eyes the “big kids”) and watch them smile as we were tagged and sent
to the pickle-pot. To anyone watching it probably seemed like another
silly game, but getting to connect with those kids and watch them laugh and
play was a very special moment for me. It reminded me of why we do what
we do and is a memory I know I will remember forever.

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

A pterodactyl, because I have always wanted to be able to fly!

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About the Author

Mackenzie Cullen

Mackenzie is a junior majoring in English and is one of Onward State's associate editors. She is from Minersville, PA, and is always trying to explain exactly where that is. Send all compliments to [email protected] or @MackenzieC__ on Twitter.

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