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THON Director Thursday: Meet THON 2023 Dancer Relations Director Reilly Smith

Name: Reilly Smith

Major: Computer Science, with a minor in Entrepreneurship and Innovation

Past THON experience

THON 2020: Dancer Relations Committee Member
THON 2021: Dancer Relations Committee Member
THON 2022: Dancer Relations Captain (Mail Call)

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

I haven’t missed a Meatball Monday at McLanahan’s this semester!

What made you want to apply for a Director position for THON 2023?

THON has without a doubt been the most inspiring and influential aspect of my time at Penn State. Each year, I have been able to contribute towards a cure for childhood cancer, learn from motivated and talented volunteers, and create countless memories. I’ve been able to see how our efforts are truly helping our families in both big and small ways and how THON can bring together the Penn State community throughout the year. Being involved in THON has provided me with so much passion and joy, and I’m excited to work to give that experience to others. I look forward to being able to collaborate with many other THON volunteers to spread our mission, as well as continuing to innovate and build new memories for families, dancers, and the entire THON community.

What are your responsibilities as the Dancer Relations Director?

As the Dancer Relations Director, my main responsibility is the safety and well-being of dancers’ physical, mental, and emotional health throughout THON Weekend. I work alongside the 24 Dancer Relations Captains throughout the year to cultivate a fun, fulfilling, and memorable environment for dancers throughout the weekend. We coordinate the logistics of the dancer experience, including dancer registration, dancer storage, EMS and athletic training services, mail and package call, College of Nursing services, the line dance, and more!

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

Each year, we look to try new ideas out and improve practices from the past! This year we really want to emphasize our communication with dancers to them as well as inform them about registering to dance, how to best prepare to dance, and more. We also want to provide more mental health resources for dancers and include more mental health-focused training with Dancer Relations committee members. We are also excited about new ways for dancers to engage on the floor during the weekend!

What makes Dancer Relations so cool, fun, and/or important?

So many Penn State students have been involved with THON throughout their years at Penn State, and many have worked so hard for the opportunity to dance. Being able to facilitate that experience is incredibly rewarding. Dancing for 46 hours is not easy, but the Dancer Relations committee is there to support dancers in accomplishing their goals.

We spend all year preparing to handle any challenges that could arise during the weekend, and through my time on Dancer Relations, I have seen people successfully handle anything that is thrown at them. Dancer Relations committee members work hard throughout the year to be able to help any dancer, and when paired with specific dancers they strive to make THON Weekend as fun and memorable for them as it can be. Getting to help someone achieve their goal of dancing at THON Weekend is nothing less than inspirational!

What are the overall goals you hope to reach with your committee for THON 2023?

A lot of my goals for Dancer Relations this year coincide with the new ideas DR is looking to implement for THON 2023. I really want everyone who is planning on dancing to be well-informed and be able to easily access all the resources they need to do so. I want to expand upon our tools for preparing for THON Weekend as well as provide opportunities for different ways for dancers to engage or decompress during the weekend. Lastly, I want every DRCM to feel confident and empowered to take on THON Weekend with their committee and in supporting their dancers!

Why do you THON?

I THON so that every family impacted by childhood cancer is able to feel the love and support of the THON community through every hardship they face and that one day every child impacted by childhood cancer is able to ring the bell and celebrate being cancer free!

What’s your favorite THON memory?

My favorite THON memory was standing in the upper bowl of the BJC with my first-year committee during the Final Four hours of THON Weekend. It was truly a magical time; standing arm in arm with strangers turned best friends through the year and being able to laugh, cry, dance, and reflect on our individual experiences volunteering as well as all the accomplishments of the THON community that year.

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

I would be an apatosaurus like Littlefoot from the beloved show Land Before Time. He seems like a great dude! After further research, apatosaurus means “deceptive lizard”, which I think is pretty funny given how they were 70-feet long herbivores.

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About the Author

Haylee Yocum

Haylee is a junior in the Schreyer Honors College studying immunology and infectious disease. She is from Mifflintown, PA, a tiny town south of State College. She is a coffee addict, loves Taylor Swift, and can't wait to go to a concert again. Any questions can be directed to @hayleeq8 on Twitter or emailed to [email protected]

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