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THON Director Thursday: Meet 2023 Hospitality Director Michael Olenick

Name: Mikey Olenick

Major: Rehabilitation and human services

Minor: Psychology

Past THON experience: 

THON 2020 Entertainment Committee Member

THON 2021 Family Relations Captain

THON 2022 Hospitality Captain

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

My senior year of high school I went on a local TV trivia game show, and I got every single question wrong!

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

I want to spend my life fighting for the people who most need it. When I arrived at Penn State, I became involved with THON because its mission perfectly encompasses my passion. THON is a community of students who are advocating for children in need, and I am eternally grateful to be a part of that fight. In my last three years as a volunteer for this beautiful organization, I have loved every single moment and opportunity I have had to get to work towards this mission and supporting the families, and I wanted to serve as a Director this year so I could continue to put my all into this organization, while also supporting other leaders as they work towards this mission. 

What are your responsibilities as a THON Director?

The Hospitality Committee works year-round to procure all food and beverage donations for THON Weekend as well as various pre-THON events. My responsibility as the Hospitality Director is to work with the 20 Hospitality captains and the over 250 Hospitality committee members to work with donors, both corporate and in-kind, to procure and serve those food and beverage donations. We work to bring together families, dancers, volunteers, and all members of the THON community together at various events by serving them delicious meals!

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

A key theme that I would like to implement this year that is different from years past is implementing initiatives to further THON’s sustainability efforts. This organization works to support children and families impacted by childhood cancer so they can grow up and live amazing lives, and this year I would like to also ensure THON is working to protect the plan they are growing up on. I am working to do this by working with a focus group dedicated to sustainability, collaborating with other organizations, and by developing a plan to reduce our plastic waste as well as to assure little to no food is wasted.

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

Something that makes the Hospitality Committee so special is the way that we are able to interact with so many different members of the THON community! While working to procure food and beverage donations for events, we have the unique opportunity to interact with and get to know so many incredible in-kind donors in the State College community and beyond that are so excited to help THON in any way they can. Then, we get to serve those meals from the donations we received to so many Four Diamonds families, THON volunteers, and dancers! Additionally, we get to serve concessions to all other supporters of the THON community at THON Weekend. The Hospitality Committee has allowed me to get to know so many different people as well as to gain a deeper understanding of the different aspects of THON!

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

As I talked about earlier, something so special about the Hospitality Committee is how we get to interact with so many different members of the THON community, and this year I hope to further support all of those different groups we get to interact with. This year, I hope to further show our appreciation for our donors, serve delicious meals to families that they can all enjoy, give the best possible support to dancers, give all supporters a great experience at all events, and give all Hospitality captains and committee members a rewarding and fun year!

Why do you THON? 

Ever since I joined THON in the fall of 2019 and I was introduced to the true magic this organization holds, I have been constantly amazed every single day by the hope and love that this organization holds and spreads. The reason why I THON has never changed, but it has grown from a once small light of joy when I first heard of THON to an everlasting part of my heart to do everything I possibly can to help our families that now exist. It continuously grows because every day I get to interact with new families, volunteers, and supporters that show me more and more the magic that THON is. I THON because every child deserves to grow up. Every parent deserves to hug their children in their arms. Every family deserves to have a wonderful life together. Every kid deserves to laugh, grow, overcome challenges, wear a cap and gown, and grow up to have a family of their own. THON is one of the most beautiful things I have ever known, and I feel so grateful to be a part of the fight.

What’s your favorite THON memory?

My favorite THON memory took place during THON 2022 Family Hour. Not only were all of my co-captains standing on the floor to my right, but my co-captains from the year before were standing on my right. Getting to be with so many of the people who have impacted my THON journey was so special, and getting to hear from our families, who are the reason we do everything we do, while standing with all of my co-captains made that moment my favorite THON memory!

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

My favorite dinosaur is definitely a brontosaurus because I always loved them when I was a kid!

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About the Author

Dana June Nunemacher

Dana is a senior, 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)!

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