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THON Director Thursday: Meet THON 2023 Special Events Director Will Vincent

Name: Will Vincent

Major: Mechanical Engineering

Minor: Spanish

Past THON Experience:

THON 2020: Donor and Alumni Relations Committee Member

THON 2021: Alumni Engagement Captain

THON 2022: Alumni Engagement Director

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

I can play “My Heart Will Go On” by Celine Dion on the recorder.

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

I wanted to serve as a director so that I would have the chance to focus all my efforts on an organization that has not only introduced me to so many amazing people and brought me so much joy during my time at Penn State, but one that has also touched the lives of so many children and families for decades. With every year I spent on the Alumni Engagement Committee, I have had the opportunity time and time again to see just how special THON’s mission is to generations of Penn Staters. This year, I wanted to have the chance to see the other side of our mission. While I have enjoyed connecting alumni with our student volunteers and working to spread awareness and funds beyond State College, I wanted to have the opportunity to help plan and carry out events that provide the emotional support to our families that they cherish each year. Being the Special Events Director has, and will, continue to allow me to devote my full efforts to the “emotional support” side of our mission, helping to provide families with memories that they will remember for years to come.

What are your responsibilities as a THON Director?

This year, I will work alongside 18 Special Events Captains to plan a variety of different events for our Four Diamonds families, volunteers, and supporters. These events are crucial in helping to keep the mission and the spirit of THON alive all year long. As the Special Events Director, I oversee the planning and execution of all pre-and post-THON Weekend events, including the THON 5K powered by PNC, 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. In the development of each event, the Special Events Committee continuously seeks out new ways to engage the THON Community and connect them with the families we support, all while working to ensure the best experience for all stakeholders attending each event.

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

While some of the larger initiatives that Special Events is taking on this year are not necessarily exclusive to this year, we are focused on taking the work that has been done by prior SE Committees and building upon it. At all of our events, we are really focusing on providing the best experience to all in attendance. Our events are an opportunity for THON to showcase why this organization is so unique and impactful on the lives it touches, and we are working to ensure that our efforts this year allow for that same transformative experience for each and every person at our events.

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

Special Events is a very unique committee that plans all pre-THON events, many of which are very visible to the THON Community and work to bring all stakeholders together. Our events are widely seen both on campus and across the country, and range in size and focus. While some events raise money to support our families, which is obviously a very important part of our mission, Special Events really focuses on furthering the emotional side of our mission and creating unforgettable memories for our families and volunteers alike. Many captains on Special Events spearhead specific events, but all Special Events Captains and Committee Members assist in the development of all events. This unique dynamic allows for events to be brought to life with the help of a full committee of volunteers, while the vision of each event is driven by each event’s respective captain or captains.

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

This year, I have a few major goals within my committee. The first is to further the passion for our mission on Special Events and work to show the members of SE, through family interaction, event planning, and my own passion, why this organization is truly so special and impactful. The second is to help oversee the planning and execution of events all year long that keep the mission of THON alive and bring our community together, all while providing unforgettable experiences for our families and never letting them forget the community of volunteers and supporters they have cheering them on in their fight. Finally, I want to work to foster the development of a committee that everyone feels comfortable in: comfortable expressing themselves, their ideas, their feedback, and ultimately being themselves. I know that committees and our volunteers work best when each volunteer is comfortable and confident, and I believe that it starts with me to ensure that each member of Special Events feels this way. In the pursuit of unforgettable events and immense passion, I am working to ensure all volunteers on the Special Events Committee feel excited and comfortable to help make those a reality.

Why do you THON?

I THON so that every child will have the opportunity to live a childhood full of innocence and excitement, not one plagued by hospital visits, exhausting treatments, and an uncertain future; so that all kids can have the chance to grow up.

What’s your favorite THON memory?

Like so many other members of this community, I have no shortage of inspiring memories that I will cherish for the rest of my life. If I had to pick just one, I think it would have to be during dancers stand this past THON Weekend. As we counted down and officially started off the weekend, I was suddenly overwhelmed by what was happening around me in all the best ways. Arm-in-arm with some of my best friends, we looked out as families, dancers, volunteers, and spectators stood up in the Bryce Jordan Center for the first time in two years. After all the anticipation, THON was finally back home. To me, that was just one more piece of proof of the resiliency and dedication of the THON community to our mission and to our families. While we achieved some unbelievable things during our virtual year, the energy of the Jordan Center that Friday evening is something I will never forget.

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

I would say a Pteranodon because I was a huge The Land Before Time fan growing up, and Petrie, who is a Pteranodon, was easily my favorite character. Also, flying would be cool.

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About the Author

Haylee Yocum

Haylee is a junior 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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