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THON Director Thursday: Meet THON 2024 Executive Director Will Vincent

Name: Will Vincent

Major: Mechanical engineering

Previous THON Experience:

THON 2020: Donor & Alumni Relations committee member
THON 2021: Alumni Engagement Captain
THON 2022: Alumni Engagement Director
THON 2023: Special Events Director

What made you want to apply for a director position for THON 2024?

I have been fortunate enough to experience two years on the executive committee in two different roles, and those experiences allowed me to see first-hand how THON is so impactful for our families and what makes this organization so special. I applied to be the executive director for THON 2024 so I would have the chance to pour all of my efforts into an organization that has changed the lives of thousands of families and children battling childhood cancer.

Every single memory I have within THON, whether it is watching thousands of runners line up at 5K, playing games at Family Carnival, or dancers stand during THON Weekend, I have had the chance to see countless times how devoted this community is to our mission and to our families. THON has given me the chance to give my time to something bigger than myself or my years at Penn State, and I wanted to continue furthering these efforts and inspiring the next generation of volunteers — all in the pursuit of no family ever having to receive the news that their child has cancer.

What are your responsibilities as a THON Director?

My primary responsibility is to support the 16 directors that make up the executive committee as they lead each of their respective committees and work alongside their captains, committee members, and other contacts to bring their initiatives and ideas to life. I serve as a resource to each of them while ensuring decisions being made within this organization align with the missions of both THON and Four Diamonds. I also serve as a liaison between THON, Four Diamonds, Penn State Health Children’s Hospital, and other groups including Penn State administration, University Development, student leaders, corporate and individual donors, and many other contacts that I have the privilege of working alongside.

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

This year, I am excited about the opportunities we have before us to enhance the experience every individual a part of THON has. No matter how someone is involved, whether as a volunteer, supporter, or in another capacity, I want to focus my year on ensuring each and every person has the best possible experience. While this is not necessarily something unique for this role, I am excited to have the opportunity to further these efforts through the executive director position.

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

In this role, I have the opportunity to be involved in projects of varying sizes and work alongside others committed to furthering all aspects of our mission. Conversations I am involved in and projects I help to further include yearlong fundraising efforts, corporate relationships, and sponsorships, how we can continue to best support our families, sustainability efforts, alumni and volunteer engagement, and how THON can continue to grow in our efforts to become as inclusive as possible. Every day I learn something new about this organization, and every day I have the pleasure of getting the chance to talk with people who are extremely dedicated to our mission, regardless of how they are involved in THON.

What are the overall goals you hope to reach with your committee for THON 2024?

Each year, THON is presented with new challenges, and in these challenges arise new opportunities for growth. This year, I hope to work alongside the executive committee to take each challenge head-on and embrace each new opportunity as we work to further our mission.

As THON continues its work to be the most welcoming and inclusive organization possible, I am excited to further these efforts and lead an executive committee that keeps this mindset at the forefront of its work. As we continue to adapt to changes in everything from fundraising to event planning and beyond, I look forward to working alongside the executive committee to use each change as a chance to foster meaningful growth within the THON community.

Overall, I am excited to see each member of the executive committee take on their roles and lead their committees in the best way they know how, all while seeking opportunity in every challenge, adapting to unforeseen circumstances, and working to make THON a home to all.

Why do you THON?

In every conversation I have had with a Four Diamonds family, every THON event I have seen, and each THON Weekend I have attended, I learned time and time again why I THON. This is a constant fight to create a future where childhood cancer ceases to exist. THON’s purpose and THON’s efforts are so much bigger than myself, and there is nothing I would rather do during my time as a college student than devote my time to impacting this organization.

It is challenging to put into words what THON has meant to me, but it is something I find easy to devote so much time and effort to because I genuinely believe in the mission and that we will, one day, dance in celebration of a cure. I THON in the pursuit of this celebration while supporting our families who still have to fight.

What’s your favorite THON memory?

I have had the opportunity to hear so many inspiring stories and witness some indescribable displays of strength and unity during my time involved in THON, but if I had to pick just one memory, I would say it was when dancers stood up to start THON 2022. Bringing THON back home to the Bryce Jordan Center after a year full of such immense darkness and hardship was such an amazing sight to see and a true testament to the resiliency and dedication of this community.

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 big “The Land Before Time” fan growing up. Petrie, who is a Pteranodon, was my favorite character!

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About the Author

McKenzie Clauss

McKenzie is a junior majoring in psychology from Stewartstown, Pennsylvania. She loves sharks, Kris Jenner, and taking naps. You can get in touch with her on Instagram @mckenzie.clauss or send an email to [email protected].

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