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THON Director Thursday: Meet THON 2022 Special Events Director Alyssa Bielinski

Name: Alyssa Bielinski

Major: Rehabilitation and Human Services Major

Past THON Experience
THON 2019 R&R Committee Member
THON 2020 R&R Committee Member
THON 2021 Special Events Closer to a Cure Celebration Captain

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

I hate using plates, bowls are much more superior.

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

THON has completely transformed my life. I was naïve enough to think that I would attend college, obtain a degree, and move on as if those four years wouldn’t be the ones to shape me into who I would one day become. I never expected to find my purpose in life during freshman year of college, but I was proved wrong after the first day I spent as a volunteer within this organization. Throughout my involvement as a committee member, captain, organization member, and dancer — my passion to do more for this organization and our families has only continued to grow. I have woken up each day with an even stronger desire to see our mission make its way into the hearts of many across the world, and to continue our fight against childhood cancer — together as one. Penn State may be my school, but THON has made it my home.

What are your responsibilities as the Special Events director?

As the Special Events director, I am responsible for inspiring, informing, and uniting the THON community by developing and continuing a variety of events to spread the spirit of THON year-round. I oversee the planning, logistics, and execution of all pre- and post-THON Weekend events, including the THON 5K, 100 Days ‘Til THON, Family Carnival, the THON Showcase, No Hair Don’t Care, the Closer to a Cure Celebration, and all THON athletic events. The Special Events committee is committed to ensuring that the magic and excitement of THON Weekend is felt throughout all 365 days of the year by creating lifelong memories for Four Diamonds families, volunteers, and supporters through our events.

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

THON 2021 was a year that challenged the entire THON community to think outside of the box for ways to stay connected when we were apart. Going into THON 2022, it has been my mission to create and maintain robust hybrid events beyond the 46 hours in February to ensure that no matter one’s location, anyone can be a part of the magic our events strive to emulate. With the continued help of 46LIVE, we have been able to implement an engaging livestream component into almost every single event throughout the year. Although being back in-person is something we have craved for so long and finally have a taste of once again, it is just as important to spread our mission year-round to those unable to be with us in State College. COVID-19 has taught me many things, but it has opened my eyes to a world where the power of love and connection has no physical limits.

What makes the Special Events committee so cool, fun, and/or important?

Special Events has the unique opportunity to work and engage with individuals in almost every facet of THON, Penn State, and the State College community. Event planning is never a one-person job, and with the help of committees, organizations, and stakeholders, we are able to provide the best experience to those in attendance in support of our mission and families. Special Events consists of 18 captains and over 100 committee members, all in which play such a crucial role in building beautiful moments for everyone to enjoy. I’m biased, but it really is an amazing committee, our events are just so special! (See what I did there?)

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

The biggest focus of the Special Events committee is to continually ensure that our mission to conquer childhood cancer is spread beyond the 46 hours in February. We have strived to expand upon our digital engagement platforms in order to make most if not all our events into a hybrid space. Although much of our student volunteer base is located in State College, it is of upmost importance to utilize this platform to connect with all of our Four Diamonds families and any other volunteer or stakeholder who is not located in the area. By doing so, we will be able to catapult our mission across the world, fostering an even larger community that can come together in support of our families. Although the world has faced immense hardship and uncertainty over the course of the last two years—we know that cancer does not stop, and therefore the THON community will not either. In a time where we are so deeply craving an ounce of togetherness and unity, we will continue act as an everlasting home for our families to find comfort in. We will persist in navigating every obstacle and every idea presented to us to be as inclusive and present as possible in the lives of our families and supporters.

Why do you THON?

The reason I THON never changes, but just continually grows the longer I am a part of this organization. I THON for each and every family impacted by childhood cancer. Being a part of this organization has shown me first-hand the effects of our year-long efforts. We raise money so that no family ever has to see a medical bill—simultaneously funding more innovative, life-saving research through Four Diamonds. But more importantly—we create one big family. We spread awareness and provide emotional support to our families year-round so that they know this is not a fight they will ever have to take on alone. I THON so that one, day no family will ever have to hear the words, “Your child has cancer.” I THON so that every child can grow up and live out their wildest dreams. I THON for every volunteer and supporter who has a personal connection to our mission. I THON so that one day, this community will dance in celebration of a cure.

What’s your favorite THON memory?

One of my most profound memories spanned 46 hours as I was given the opportunity to dance in THON 2021 as a part of an independent dancer couple. Not being able to be in the BJC and feeling the infectious energy of our families and other volunteers in-person was difficult, but it allowed me to see THON for what it really is and all of the magic it emulates to everyone involved. From jumping around in my living room at 6 a.m. doing the line dance, getting to be on Zoom calls with families and friends, embracing my dancer partner as we cried during the final four hours, and so much in between—I will never have the words to express my gratitude to this organization and how much it has given me over the years. I was truly able to see that THON will never be confined to the walls of a building on our campus. It has never been and never will be constricted to one person, one town, or one state. The mission of THON is a magical feeling, and this weekend in its entirety instilled an everlasting sense of passion in me to give every effort I have in the fight against childhood cancer. Those 46 hours of pure joy, bubbly laughter, endless smiles, and continued hope spoke volumes to me about the sense of belonging and family that THON fosters for students and Four Diamonds families alike.

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

According to Buzzfeed, I have the personality of a Velociraptor. I now have many questions.

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About the Author

Dana June Nunemacher

Dana is a redshirt sophomore, who is studying public relations. She is from the 570 and yes, she has watched The Office. Her passions in life include drinking unsweetened iced tea and spreading her love for agriculture (yee haw)! Send any cow pictures or complaints to [email protected]

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