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THON Director Thursday: Meet THON 2022 OPP Director Frank Incaranto

Name: Frank Incarnato

Major: Mechanical Engineering  Minor: Engineering Leadership Development

Past THON experience

2019: OPP committee member
2020: OPP committee and lieutenant
2021: OPP set-up/tear-down captain

Name an interesting, weird, or quirky fact about yourself

I am completely colorblind, and I have a favorite color when I have my colorblind correction glasses on (green) compared to when I don’t (blue).

What made you want to apply for the OPPerations director position for THON 2022?

After being selected as a captain for THON 2021, I was so excited to take on every unique challenge the year presented, pandemic or not. Even with the limited role that OPPerations had in THON Weekend that year, I got to spend the year fundraising and furthering an amazing cause, and doing it alongside so many amazing people, like my co-captains and my committee. When the THON 2021 year came to a close, I knew that I still had more to give to this amazing organization, and I applied for director knowing that I could bring a set of fresh eyes to OPPerations and help improve its efficiency for years to come.

In addition, my experience here at Penn State would not be remotely the same without my time on THON OPPerations. I have met some of my best friends and created so many memories on this committee that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. There is no place in the world with the same energy as Alumni Hall when the entire Big Blue Family is in the room, and I am so happy that I get to be a part of making those events happen alongside 21 amazing captains. Having the opportunity to help develop the same friendships and memories for others that have been so important to me here at Penn State was another reason that I applied for director. 

5. What are your responsibilities as the OPPerationsDirector?

As OPPerations director, I oversee the set-up and tear-down of all major THON events throughout the year, including the THON 5K, Family Carnival, and THON Weekend. In addition, I also manage THON’s sustainability efforts throughout the year, with the ultimate goal of helping THON become a zero-waste organization. This is achieved by sustainability initiatives like TREE, which reduces the amount of waste THON creates.

During THON Weekend, the 21 OPP captains and I oversee the maintenance of the Bryce Jordan Center to ensure that THON Weekend is held in a safe and sanitary environment for THON volunteers, general spectators, and Four Diamonds families. OPP is also responsible for Slides of Strength, an exciting event where dancers gain a bit of motivation and rest as they power through the weekend.  

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

This year, alongside the sustainability captains, I have attempted to create a long-term sustainability plan for THON. As we try to move closer to the zero-waste threshold for an organization, we want to be sure that we are looking ahead to the future, especially as a student-run organization with lots of turnover from year to year. By creating a living document filled with initiatives that we can try and work through over the span of years, we can become closer and closer to reaching that goal. 

Another initiative that I have worked to implement this year has been to improve committee member education about what we do as a whole on OPPerations. Due to THON 2021 being virtual, there is a collective knowledge gap among new volunteers. OPP has been working to figure out the best way to make up the difference and has been improving different OPP efforts such as workdays in the Bryce Jordan Center, captain and committee Member tours, and improved delivery of general THON information. 

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

OPPerations has an energy that is completely unique to anything I have ever experienced before. Whether its playing games like Birdie on a Perch and competing for the golden broom, setting up the foundation of THON Weekend by laying the mats dancers walk in, or making the floor shake during Slides of Strength, the enthusiasm for every event that is collectively shared by the 550 members of OPPerations is unreal. During THON Weekend, OPPerations keeps the building running behind the scenes and does it with a collective smile on their faces the entire time, and it is unlike anything I have ever experienced. 

OPP has adopted the mantra “First In, Last Out”, which means that we stay until the job is done and we do it in the most efficient way possible, and every single OPPerations committee member buys into this mentality. While most spectators, dancers, and volunteers are enjoying their Friday mornings and Sunday nights, OPPerations is in the Bryce Jordan Center making sure that every mat is laid down for dancers to stand on, every table is accounted for, and every part of the building is as clean as possible, and I think that is one of the most unique and rewarding experiences ever.

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

The first overall goal is to bridge the collective knowledge gap that is present due to the virtual nature of THON 2021. THON 2021 made a statement that THON does not live in a building, but in 2022 the Penn State community will gather in the Bryce Jordan Center to celebrate how far we have come. OPPerations will be the first ones in and the last ones out, making sure it is a safe environment for Four Diamonds children. I want to make sure that even though some people have never seen an in-person THON Weekend, they are just as prepared to face this challenge head-on, overcome any obstacles in their way, all while still experiencing the magic that has inspired so many people just like me.

The other overall goal I hope to achieve is to give OPP committee members the best experience possible. After Zoom trivia nights and masked meet-ups in 2021 helped bring OPP together during a very tough time, I want to make sure that every committee member has the opportunity to have the same positive experience and make the same friendships and memories that I did in my first two years here. By bringing back old OPP events and combining them with new ones, I think we have done exactly that.

Why do you THON?

In high school, I lost a close friend of mine to cancer and saw the toll that his treatment took on him both physically and emotionally. When I came to Penn State, I knew that I wanted to be a part of this organization because I saw the support network it created for children and families impacted by childhood cancer, and how it had given them the chance to be so much more than their diagnosis. Through the work of student volunteers, they were helping people just like my friend and I knew that I wanted to be as involved as I possibly could. I THON for my friend and for every other angel who has lost their battle, as well as for the ones that have gotten the chance to live a normal life. 

What is your Favorite THON memory? 

My sophomore year I had the opportunity to be on the floor, helping the Bryce Jordan Center run during the Final Four. During the “Where Are They Now” video, I had a chance to take a break and just soak in the excitement about how far so many of these Four Diamonds children have come, and how they have been able to preserve through so much and get the chance to live out their dreams. At one point, a name flashed across the screen and a girl in front of me exclaimed “that’s ME!” and started running around, high-fiving everybody in a 30-foot radius of her. I was lucky enough to receive one of the dozens of high-fives she gave out, and I will never forget that moment.

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

Pterodactyl. It’s cool yet completely underrated. Stylish, but not in your face about it. The perfect dinosaur by a landslide.

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About the Author

Mackenzie Cullen

Mackenzie is a senior 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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