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THON Director Thursday: Meet THON 2023 Family Relations Director Tessa Beauchat

Name: Tessa Beauchat

Major: Human-centered design and development
Minor: Rehabilitation and human services

Past THON Experience:

THON 2020 Dancer Relations committee member
THON 2021 Family Relations captain (intra-committee liaison)
THON 2022 Family Relations captain (teen and adult coordinator)

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

I wake surf!

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

Having the opportunity to personally get to know many of our THON Families has been such an amazing experience, and getting to see how impacted they have been by THON has inspired my involvement. I wanted to get involved as a director to get to facilitate relationships between our families and volunteers; both to ensure our families have the best possible experiences within THON, but also so our volunteers can be in touch with our mission and individuals their efforts directly benefit. I am especially passionate about recognizing that each family’s THON experience is different, and I wanted to be involved in ensuring that the work that we do recognizes these differences and supports each of our families uniquely and intentionally. THON is a bit of light in a very difficult time for many of our families, and I wanted to do what I could to ensure they feel loved and supported through and beyond their cancer journey.

What are your responsibilities as a THON Director?

As the Family Relations Director, my primary responsibilities are providing emotional support to all of our THON Families, ensuring that our families are staying at the heart of everything that we do, and leading a committee of 25 captains in achieving these efforts. Family Relations facilitates a variety of programs that provide love and support to our families through and beyond their cancer journey. These programs include the Adopt-A-Family program, the TEENetwork, New Family Orientations, and more! Additionally, the Family Relations committee is responsible for facilitating interactions between our families and volunteers, and we have a few programs that contribute to this effort, including Penn Pal, Teen Mentorship, and the Warm Welcome Program.

Family Relations works to ensure that we support all of the families we serve and meet them where they are in their cancer journey. We have special programs for teen and adult families, and we facilitate the Perpetual Pennant Project in order to honor the THON children who we remember in our hearts. Additionally, as the Family Relations Director, I work to educate the THON community on our families’ journeys by empowering them to share their stories through the Family Education Program, Family Focus Videos, and speaking opportunities at THON events. Above all else, I strive to ensure that families remain at the core of everything THON does.

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

This year, I am working with my captains to implement new initiatives and changes throughout our programming and THON at large. One thing I am excited to explore this year is the ability to connect new families with one another. I had an awesome experience watching two moms bond at a past New Family Orientation, and I realized that while we can provide families emotional support, there is nothing that compares with connecting with someone who understands what you are going through. I am working with the New Family Contacts on Family Relations to explore this idea!

What makes your committee so cool, fun, and/or important?

Ultimately, the families are at the center of everything that we do! Getting to serve as a bridge between volunteers and families is such a wonderful, rewarding experience. Students volunteer so much of their time and effort to THON, and I think something that makes THON unique is the ability to see and get to know the people those efforts support! It is amazing to get to share our families’ stories and watch how it inspires volunteers.

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

This year, I am really looking forward to taking what we have learned about virtual engagement over the past two years and intentionally incorporating it into our events. I am so glad we have learned about how to create engaging opportunities online for our families that may not be able to join us in person, and I cannot wait to work with my captains to make these opportunities come to life!

Why do you THON?

I THON so that the memories of every family that we serve are honored and remembered by this community. I THON with the hope of one day finding a cure for childhood cancer, but until then, [I THON] so that more children and families can feel the limitless love and support of this community.

What’s your favorite THON memory?

During THON Weekend 2021 I had the honor of going into the BJC to do my event, Kids’ Mail Call, from the stage. During the event, one of our families, the Julia O’Toole family, was touring the BJC using a telepresence robot. She drove the robot right next to the stage, and during the performances, we had a dance party. She drove the robot in circles as we danced and sang. In that moment I think I fully came to understand that THON isn’t a place, it is a feeling and an incredible community.

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

Definitely a Pterodactyl — it flies!

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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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