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THON Director Thursday: Meet THON 2023 Executive Director Lily Pevoto

Name: Lily Pevoto

Major: Master’s of Accounting, bachelor’s in accounting
Minor: Human development and family studies

Previous THON Experience:
THON 2019 Rules & Regulations Committee member
THON 2020 Supply Logistics Captain (donor contact, Hershey holiday toy drive)
THON 2021 Communications Captain (outreach)
THON 2022 Communications Director

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

I used to be an Irish dancer!

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

For the past four years, I have had the immense privilege of serving Penn State THON in several capacities; as a committee member, organization member, captain, and director. In each of these roles, I have learned invaluable lessons as a leader, follower, friend, and person. Since becoming a THON volunteer, I’ve also had the privilege of meeting Four Diamonds families and learning more about each of their unique stories. Through learning from them, I feel lucky to be able to put a face to the impact that THON and Four Diamonds have year-round.

From watching CJ Ford ring the bell on Zoom when he finished treatment to playing a scavenger hunt with the Bonn Family at Harvest Day to watching Aubrey Evans participate in the Kids Fashion Show from across the country, these moments showed me the importance of continuing to provide happy memories for children and teens impacted by childhood cancer. Being able to serve as the Executive Director for THON 2023 allows me to continue to develop opportunities for volunteers and THON supporters to see the impact of our work through these special moments, while also fundraising so that one day no child must fight this horrible disease.

What are your responsibilities as a THON Director?

First and foremost, my responsibility is to uplift and support the Executive Committee throughout the year as they develop and execute each of their committee’s initiatives, events, and resources. I’m responsible for ensuring that each of these initiatives is aligned with the long-term growth of THON’s mission while working with our sole beneficiary Four Diamonds, and partner Penn State Health Children’s Hospital. As the primary liaison to Four Diamonds, I work closely with their team and can serve as the spokesperson for THON on the Four Diamonds Advisory Board. I also act as the primary liaison to a few of THON’s essential stakeholder groups: Penn State administration, Student Affairs, University Development, and some of our corporate and individual donors.

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

This year, one project I’m excited to re-instate is THON’s Week of Gratitude! Coming into this role, I knew I wanted to do more to instill gratitude into THON’s culture, and I’m really excited for this week to be one way of many that we focus on thanking everyone who makes it possible for THON to further our mission each year.

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

This role provides the unique opportunity to see how all of THON’s moving parts work together throughout the year. Because of this, all of my days look so different. In one day, I can be working on a yearlong fundraising strategy, meeting with a corporate donor, brainstorming new ways for THON to be more sustainable, and meeting with other student leaders to see how THON can be as inclusive as possible at Penn State. Being able to learn about so many different parts of this organization has been the privilege of a lifetime and something I cherish every day! Through this experience, I hope to be able to make each project and conversation I help just a little bit better than when we started it.

What are the overall goals you hope to reach with the Executive Committee for THON 2023?

Since the beginning of this year, I have often told the Executive Committee that our goal is to leave the organization better than we found it. Over the past few years, THON has undergone immense change through transitioning our fundraising model, developing hybrid events, and navigating the ongoing challenges presented by the pandemic. What we’ve learned, however, is that each of these challenges presented immense opportunities for us to further enhance the way we provide emotional and financial support to children and families impacted by childhood cancer. This year, I hope to take the lessons that we’ve learned to improve the experience for every individual who touches this organization: students, alumni, supporters, and most importantly our Four Diamonds families.

Why do you THON?

Every year, I learn more about the ways that THON improves the lives of children and families impacted by childhood cancer, but my desire to give to this cause started in high school. Cameron Evans was a bright and inventive teenager from my hometown, Downingtown, Pennsylvania. After a six-month battle with leukemia in 2012, Cam tragically passed away. After his passing, his friends and family came together to start Cam-A-THON, a 12-hour dance marathon that benefitted Cure4Cam, an organization founded to fund research for more humane treatments for childhood cancer. Through Cam’s story, I witnessed the tragic impact that childhood cancer can have on families, schools, and entire communities. I also saw how the heartbreak united friends, schoolmates, parents, and more in developing a long-lasting legacy for Cam. After participating in Cam-A-THON for all four years of high school, I knew coming to Penn State that I had more to give in the fight against childhood cancer.

What’s your favorite THON memory?

My favorite THON memory was during my first shift as a Rules & Regulations Committee Member for THON 2019. I was fortunate to be stationed right at the entrance of the Bryce Jordan Center, the door that dancers entered to take their first steps onto the floor for THON Weekend 2019. Being able to watch each of them see the floor for the first time, where they would be spending the next 46 hours, was such a privilege. Not only did I watch hundreds of beaming smiles coming from the dancers, but I saw the genuine enthusiasm and passion of other committee members, captains, directors, student organization members, and Four Diamonds families as we lined the dancers’ tunnel. At that moment, I realized how special THON is for every person who touches this organization; from general spectators to organization members, to committee members, and most importantly for children and families impacted by childhood cancer.

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

According to several online quizzes, I am a triceratops. They are herbivores and pretty cool looking, so I’ll take it!

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About the Author

Haylee Yocum

Haylee is a 2024 graduate of Penn State with a degree in immunology and infectious disease. She relocated to Williamsport but will not be taking any questions about what’s next in her career. Haylee continues to be fueled by dangerous amounts of caffeine and dreams of smashing the patriarchy. Any questions or discussion about Taylor Swift’s best songs can be directed to @hayleeq8 on Twitter if you must.

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