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THON Director Thursday: Meet THON 2022 Communications Director Lily Pevoto

Name: Lily Pevoto

Major: Master of Accounting Program, Minor in Human Development and Family Studies

Past THON experience

Rules & Regulations committee member for THON 2019
Supply Logistics captain for THON 2020
Communications captain for THON 2021

Name an interesting, weird, or quirky fact about yourself:
I used to be an Irish dancer!

What made you want to apply for the Communications Director position for THON 2022?

In each year that I have been able to volunteer for THON, I have learned invaluable lessons and met passionate and courageous leaders across all committee members, captains, and directors. As a member of PGN, a
professional development organization on campus, I’ve also been able to see the immense passion and dedication of organizations’ THON Chairs in year-long fundraising, engagement, and family relations initiatives. The Communications Committee provides the unique opportunity to interact with both the committee and organization side of THON, and being the Communications Director allows me the privilege of serving both of these unique and equally important sides of THON as a whole.

Serving on the Executive Committee allows me to give back to the organization which has supported and inspired me every day for the past three years. Through my volunteer experience in Penn State THON, I have found individuals who are equally passionate about finding small ways to improve the lives of children and families impacted by childhood cancer. I have also learned that all of these small acts can amass into an unshakeable sense of hope and community for everyone who touches this organization. Growing up, I had the privilege of having healthy and happy memories with friends and family. Now, I believe wholeheartedly that each of us has a responsibility to invest in providing happy and healthy memories for future generations. Volunteering for THON allows me to contribute in small ways to providing more precious childhood memories for children and teens at all places in their journey with childhood cancer.

What are your responsibilities as the Communications Director?

As Communications Director, I have the privilege of leading 25 captains who lead initiatives across our committee’s four facets: Organization Development, Education, Outreach, and Inclusivity. Organization Development provides
decision-making support to THON chairs as they lead their organizations to success throughout the year. Education aims to ensure that THON’s volunteers are properly educated about THON and its history to be able to serve as
advocates and ambassadors of THON’s brand. Outreach focuses on recruitment of the Penn State student body as well as outreach to faculty, staff, and other groups in the university looking to be involved in THON. Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion has become a focal point of THON’s efforts this year. Communications is responsible for holding the THON Community accountable for growing in these efforts, developing programming and initiatives to make the
THON Community is a place where all feel safe, heard, and welcome.

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

This past year, THON released its first Action Plan, a document outlining several initiatives related to improving THON’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Going into this year, one of my primary priorities was to build upon these initiatives and ensure that the THON Community is a safe and welcoming place for every Penn State student. Over the summer we were able to release the THON 2022 Action Plan, which outlines several programs and structural changes aimed at enhancing accountability, accessibility, and more for every THON Volunteer.

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

Like mentioned before, Communications has the amazing opportunity to interact in some capacity with each of THON’s 16,500 student volunteers, both on the committee and organization side of THON. While our primary goal is to ensure that every volunteer is informed, we are able to take it a step further by building and strengthening relationships with organization members, committee members, and captains from every committee. It is these close friendships made that I believe sustain THON’s volunteer network from year to year, retaining volunteers across all levels.

What are the overall goals you hope to reach with your committee for THON 2022?

While Communications operates in several different areas of THON, it is my priority this year to ensure that all 25 captains and over 100 committee members feel like one big team. The work that each of them does is very different, but I’ve learned that when we work together, we can go so much farther. Another similar goal I have this year is to instill this mindset across all THON Volunteers as it pertains to inclusivity. While Communications is responsible for developing various programs related to diversity, equity, access, and inclusion, every THON volunteer has a responsibility to consider the ways that they can contribute to making THON a more inclusive and welcoming environment.

Why do you THON?

I was first exposed to the devastating effects that childhood cancer can have on families, schools, and communities in high school through an annual event called Cam-A-THON. Cam-A-THON was started in 2013 in honor of Cameron Evans: a bright, inventive, and kind fourteen-year-old from my hometown who passed away after bravely battling leukemia. I directly saw the incredibly painful impact that childhood cancer had on his family, school, and our entire community. I also learned that this heartbreak had the unmatched power to unite individuals, schools, and communities in creating an enduring legacy for Cam, and funding research so one day no child will have to endure the painful treatment and experience of childhood cancer. Coming to Penn State in my first year, I knew that I wanted to continue to give back in whatever way possible to ensure that one day, no family will have to hear the words “your child has cancer.”

What’s your favorite THON memory?

My favorite THON memory was during my first shift as a Rules & Regulations committee member for THON 2019. I was fortunate to be stationed right at the Founders’ Entrance of the Bryce Jordan Center, the door that dancers enter to take their first steps onto the floor for THON Weekend 2019. Being able to watch each of them see the floor for the first time, where they would be spending the next 46 hours, was such a privilege. Not only did I watch hundreds of beaming smiles coming from the dancers, but I saw the genuine enthusiasm and passion of other committee members, captains, directors, student organization members, and Four Diamonds families as we lined the dancers’ tunnel. In that moment, I realized how special THON is for every person who touches this organization; from general spectators to organization members, to committee members, and most importantly for children and families impacted by childhood cancer.

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

After some research, I think I have to go with a Pachycephalosaurus because they were herbivores and also had cool built-on hats.

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About the Author

Mackenzie Cullen

Sadly, Mackenzie graduated from Penn State in 2022. She majored in English and served as one of Onward State's associate editors. You can keep up with her life and send compliments to @MackenzieC__ on Twitter.

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