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10 Questions With THON 2025 Executive Director Keegan Sobczak

Since his election as executive director of THON 2025 in March, Keegan Sobczak jumped right in and fully immersed himself in his new role. The rising senior supply chain and information systems major has many dreams and plans for his new position and has already gotten to work.

Onward State sat down to talk with Sobczak about his responsibilities and duties thus far.

Onward State: What roles have you served in before becoming director within THON and on campus?

Keegan Sobczak: In THON, I started out my first year as a hospitality committee member. I continued as a hospitality committee member during my second year on campus. My third year was when I reactivated my organization, Theta Chi fraternity, as a THON organization and served as the primary chair for Theta Chi. That same year, I also was able to be a dancer for THON 2023, and I also served as a supply logistics captain as a paper and office supplies donor contact and gift card initiative captain on the supply logistics committee. Then, after serving in that role, I applied and became the supply logistics director for THON 2024 this past year and am now currently serving as the executive director for THON 2025.

OS: What was your motivation behind applying to be the THON 2025 executive director?

KS: THON is truly the embodiment of what it means to find a home away from home. The community and emotion behind this organization is something that I’ve always connected with and I always have found a place in. Through my work and through seeing THON through a bunch of different perspectives and lenses, I’ve been able to get such an appreciation for what this organization is able to do for our families and children battling childhood cancer.

I just really wanted to be able to have a larger impact and try to repay as much as this organization has given me, which I think is impossible, but I am certainly trying my best and really just want to get more interactions with our families and leave a larger impact on his organization. Hopefully in years down the line, we’ll find a cure for childhood cancer and I hope to be able to play a very small part in that.

OS: What was your reaction when you found out you were chosen?

KS: Just a moment of surrealness. I don’t even know if I truly have processed all of it to this point yet, still, doesn’t even really feel real. It was really just a humbling moment to get to this point after coming from my first year, moving here from Florida, and not really finding my place on campus at Penn State. THON provided me with that sense of community and home that you know, at a large campus is really important. So receiving the news that I’m now going to be leading the organization in THON 2025 was the most unreal moment and I am just so excited.

OS: What are some of your main responsibilities as executive director?

KS: As the executive director, my main responsibility is overseeing the executive committee, which is made up of 16 directors, all of whom oversee their specific committees. And basically just being the liaison to all of them in understanding where THON is at currently, as an organization, and understanding how the 16 committees all play a part in that. I also serve as the primary liaison to the Penn State Health Children’s Hospital, Four Diamonds, and other university contacts.

Really, my role is to be a spokesperson for THON, advocating for our mission, spreading awareness, and really empowering our organization through our fundraising efforts to hopefully donate our maximum amount of monetary value to Four Diamonds. This is all to ensure that we’re able to cover the expenses of every medical bill incurred by our families and also have money go towards this critical research to help our end goal of a cure.

OS: What was the process like of selecting the members of the executive committee?

KS: It’s definitely a big task and probably one of my most important responsibilities is selecting who’s going to lead the 16 committees. I think going through that process, really taking the time to look into each committee and understanding how they operate was important. Obviously, I’m coming from being a supply logistics director. I know how that committee operates and you get to see bits and pieces of every other committee by working with them. I really like doing a deep dive into those committees to understand what types of people the projects, the initiatives that they work on, and who’s going to best fit that position.

Then when you have an amazing group of applicants who all care for this mission so much, I’m really looking at their ideas, how they align with my goals and visions for THON 2025, and who would be the best people for the job in order to propel our organization and set foundations for years to come, and I think that’s what I achieved. The 16 of them are so amazing.

OS: What is one thing you want to implement or change in your time as executive director?

KS: Over the summer is really a key moment in time where the executive committee can kind of do a lot of deep dives into the way that our committees operate and how we can kind of better serve the larger community whether that be our families, our donors, our volunteers, any general spectator members of State College. A way really we can utilize that is through the data that we have at our disposal as an organization. Each committee has done a pretty good job over the past several years of collecting this data, and we have so much at our fingertips. But it’s really key to analyze the data to understand how it can kind of empower our decision-making and understand how we can be a more efficient organization in every single topic. That starts with fundraising. It starts with family support, organization, benchmarking, and understanding where each stakeholder group and facet of the organization has performed, where they’re at currently, and where we can kind of make strides to improve that.

Obviously, I come from a supply chain and information systems major where we do a lot of data analysis and being able to utilize data just helps us make better-informed decisions. Although not all committees are focused strictly on fundraising, there are areas in each committee that can utilize data more properly, to better inform their decision-making and that’s an undertaking that my directors are all really keyed in on and something that we’re really looking forward to implementing over the summer.

OS: What is your favorite THON memory?

KS: It’s so tough to narrow it down to one moment. I think this past year for THON 2024 was during “dancers stand.” It is really just the moment on the precipice of what’s about to be 46 hours of greatness, love, strength, and even through the sad moments. That’s that moment in those 10 seconds. We’re on the stage and just being with the rest of the executive committee, knowing that we’re about to go tackle this weekend that we worked all year for. I got to just take in all the faces of the dancers about to stand, the families watching, the spectators, and all the volunteers ready to do the job that they signed up to do and are so passionate about. It really just connected every thought, and from all my facets of being able to see THON through different lenses, was just such a surreal moment and one that I will never forget.

OS: What is one fun or weird fact about yourself?

KS: I’m a big comedy TV show buff. I love binge-watching a television show and I’m super passionate about comedy. I think it’s such a great way to connect with others, and I love comedy television. I would probably put “30 Rock” as one of my favorites.

OS: Why do you THON?

KS: The reason why somebody THONs is such an interesting and beautiful thing since it really is an amalgamation and connection of every single event and exposure you’ve had to this organization. So the reasoning really grows year after year, every interaction you get to have with the Four Diamonds family. Every time single time you get to see a volunteer pour their heart out into their position, into their role. Every time you see a THON chair going above and beyond for their organization or for their paired family. Every single iteration of this organization fuels my passion to give back more and more, and why I THON is ultimately for that cure and one day so that we can dance in celebration, and that we don’t need to even have THON anymore since this is the end goal. But until that point, it’s soaking up all the time we have for our families, being that emotional support system, that community that we can foster, is just why I THON and why I always will be forever indebted to this organization.

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

KS: My favorite dinosaur is the Ankylosaurus. It’s a nice dinosaur for sure. It’s the armored one with a club tail. I just always loved that one growing up. I always thought it was so cool to look at and interesting.

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About the Author

Ally Eaton

Ally is a freshman public relations major from York, Pennsylvania and is one of Onward State's social media editors. She gets to write awesome feature stories and create epic content for our social media pages. Ally is a lover of country music and Trader Joe's. If you'd like to discuss March Madness or your most creative coffee order, feel free to contact her on Twitter @allyeaton31 or in her inbox [email protected].

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