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THON 2018 - Discovering Tomorrow's Wonder

Kyle Bennison

Grad Year: 2018

Major: Marketing

Minor: Information Systems Management

 

What has been your involvement with Ayuda and THON?

  • I got involved with Ayuda my freshmen year when I saw them at the involvement fair handing out freeze pops. I stuck with them because of the group of people that made me feel welcome and immediately treated me like one of their own. It was really great to have upperclassmen to look up to and it was a great way to get to know people and get involved in things like THON, IM Sports, Tailgating, and more freshmen year. I applied and was chosen as a Special Projects chair for Ayuda my sophomore year. In addition, I joined OPPerations as a committee member for THON 2016 and got to see THON from a whole new point of view. Junior year I was the co-chair for Penn State Club Track THON, and I also shadowed the current President of Ayuda and tried to learn as much as possible in preparation for senior year, when I was chosen to serve as Ayuda’s THON 2018 President. My senior year, I was President of Ayuda and also one of our dancers in THON 2018.

 

Why did you choose to apply to dance in THON?

  • I never really thought I would want to dance after going to THON for the first time freshmen year. I remember talking to Matt and we both were unsure after seeing all that the dancers go through. If anything, seeing it up close and personal made me want to dance less. After being in the org for three years and learning more about what it means to THON and getting to know the Goras, I thought that dancing would be a good way to inspire other members to get more involved in Ayuda and THON, since I was so inspired by our dancers throughout the years. I also wanted to give Ayden and Zay and all the other THON children a weekend to just be kids and not worry about anything. My goal was never to dance in THON, it was to make a difference. And I hope that my involvement with Ayuda for four years and dancing this year did make a difference to some of the people that I know and to the THON families.

 

What did dancing in THON mean to you?

  • I wasn’t really sure what dancing would mean to me personally, I only knew what I wanted it to mean to others. To the members of Ayuda, I hoped it gave them a new appreciation for what the spirit of THON is and how much it means to the families and kids that are affected by our efforts, whether its passing a soccer ball with their child or standing outside a Starbucks at 7 AM in the cold on a Saturday morning. I also hoped that it made them realize what a great group of people they are surrounded by in Ayuda, and encouraged them to get more involved over their remaining years. To the THON families, I hope it just represented a weekend of carefreeness and fun that they don’t often get in their hectic and stressful lives.

 

Wrap up your 46 hours in one sentence. 

  • ​I peed every half hour for 46 hours so that’s like 92 pees.

What are you doing now/once you graduate?

  • I am starting as a marketing analyst for Axtria, a data analytics consulting company, in August. I hope to develop my skills in analytics and eventually move into the sports industry doing marketing analytics, player analytics, or fan engagement for a sports team (hopefully in Philly!). More so, I hope to stay involved with THON through the Ayuda Alumni Interest Group. I will be leading our efforts this coming year and really want to get our alumni actively involved with past and current members as we continue to grow in number.

 

 

Bennet Brooks

Grad Year: 2019

Major: Industrial Engineering

 

What has been your involvement with Ayuda and THON?

  • I joined Ayuda as a Freshman at the Fall Involvement Fair and wanted to get as involved as possible right away.  I signed up for exec shadowing and was a shadow for all of my Freshman year leading up to THON 2016. Since then, I was a Fundraising Chair for THON 2017 and a Family Relations Chair for THON 2018.  I also ended the THON 2018 year as a dancer for Ayuda! Now in my senior year I am President of Ayuda! Outside of Ayuda I was on an OPP committee my freshman year, a DR committee sophomore year and a DR committee again now for my senior year.

 

Why did you choose to apply to dance in THON?

  • I always knew I wanted to apply to dance in THON after my first experience with THON was visiting Penn State for THON 2015 when my sister was a dancer for her org.  After becoming more and more involved in THON, the idea of dancing in THON became much more to me. Dancing in THON was an opportunity to celebrate all that we accomplished for the year as an organization, a chance to show the kids and families how much we support them and are fighting for them, and a chance to give some of the most inspiring and amazing kids a carefree weekend full of fun and smiles.  As a dancer you can directly be involved in all of these aspects and that was why I chose to apply to dance in THON 2018.

 

What did dancing in THON mean to you?

  • Dancing in THON had a few different sides for me.  First, dancing in THON was an effort to show The Gora’s, our THON Family, how much they mean to us and how much we support them and every other family in their fights against childhood cancer.  Also, it was a chance to represent our organization and all that we had accomplished for the kids that year. Dancing in THON is also an amazing opportunity to help provide a weekend of fun and escape for these kids once a year.  When you are dancing you will be down on the floor for the entire weekend and will have the opportunity to interact with kids every moment they are down there and every one of those interactions is an opportunity to put a much needed smile on their face.  The other side of what dancing in THON meant to me had to do with my personal relationship to Tim Piazza. When we had joined Ayuda together as freshmen we had talked about the possibility of dancing together senior year. Once Tim passed away, that was always something I carried with me, that goal to dance with Tim and in his honor as it was something he wanted to do too.  That is why I had “Dancing With Tim” on the back of my shirt for THON weekend.

 

Wrap up your 46 hours in one sentence. 

  • ​“Dancer Relations Captains To The Stage” *Runs to South Annex*

What are you doing now/once you graduate?

  • I will be working for GE Healthcare, starting next summer in their Operations Management Leadership Program.

 

 

Haleigh Cavalier

Grad Year: 2018

Major: General Science

 

What has been your involvement with Ayuda and THON?

  • I joined AYUDA as a freshman looking for a way to get involved with a small organization and make some friends. After meeting the Gora's for the first time, I fell in love with the family and the organization and became a dedicated member. My junior year, I took on the role of Family Relations Chair, that I maintained through my senior year. I loved my role in Family Relations as I got to be involved with my favorite aspect of THON, the families!

 

Why did you choose to apply to dance in THON?

  • I chose to apply to dance in THON because I knew I would be honored to represent AYUDA and the Gora's in THON. I thought (and was correct) that dancing in THON would be an amazing, inspirational, and emotional experience and a way to challenge myself in ways I had never done before, all in the efforts of my favorite cause, for my favorite family.

 

What did dancing in THON mean to you?

  • Dancing in THON meant that I was representing an organization and family that meant a lot to me. Through AYUDA and the Gora's I learned a lot about life, being positive, enjoying little moments, being thankful for the day, and the importance in giving back. When I was dancing in THON, I was so PROUD to be representing AYUDA, standing in solidarity with the Gora's, in honor and in memory of Tim, and that I was a part of something much bigger than myself.

 

Wrap up your 46 hours in one sentence. 

  • There are too many people to thank, inspirational moments to share, pictures to post, and things to say that if I were to accurately convey dancing in THON, I’d be going on forever.

What are you doing now/once you graduate?

  • I am currently pursuing a Masters in Public Health in Toxicology at Columbia University in New York City!

 

 

Billie Shipon

Graduation Year: 2019
Major: Early Childhood Education

 

What has been your involvement with Ayuda and THON?

  • During my freshman and sophomore year I️ was an R&R committee member. I️ joined Ayuda during my sophomore year, where I shadowed a Senior exec. I️ became an exec myself my junior year, and I️ was Special Projects chair.

 

Why did you choose to apply to dance in THON?

  • I️ chose to dance in THON because I️ knew that this year was a special year for Ayuda. For the first time in Ayuda’s history we had the honor of having 5 dancers. I️ knew that this would be a meaningful year to dance, since these dancers would not have been possible without the generosity of others to remember Tim. There was a lot of meaning behind the number of dancers, so I️ thought it would be a significant year to apply.

What did dancing in THON mean to you?

  • Dancing in THON was a way for me to carry on the legacy of my mom and Tim. During my sophomore year of high school my mom had lost her battle to breast cancer. Cancer has had a direct affect on my family, so I wanted to stand up to cancer and join the fight. I️ also wanted to give the Goras a weekend a weekend they’d never forget. I️ wanted to give them a chance to be carefree for a weekend, while knowing they were surrounded by people who love and care for them.

 

Wrap up your 46 hours in one sentence. 

  • A once in a lifetime experience.

What are you doing now/once you graduate?

  • Once I️ graduate I️ hope to become a preschool teacher and help make a difference in young children’s lives.

 

 

Graduation Year: 2019
Major: Early Childhood Education

 

What has been your involvement with Ayuda and THON?

  • During my freshman and sophomore year I️ was an R&R committee member. I️ joined Ayuda during my sophomore year, where I shadowed a Senior exec. I️ became an exec myself my junior year, and I️ was Special Projects chair.

 

Why did you choose to apply to dance in THON?

  • I️ chose to dance in THON because I️ knew that this year was a special year for Ayuda. For the first time in Ayuda’s history we had the honor of having 5 dancers. I️ knew that this would be a meaningful year to dance, since these dancers would not have been possible without the generosity of others to remember Tim. There was a lot of meaning behind the number of dancers, so I️ thought it would be a significant year to apply.

What did dancing in THON mean to you?

  • Dancing in THON was a way for me to carry on the legacy of my mom and Tim. During my sophomore year of high school my mom had lost her battle to breast cancer. Cancer has had a direct affect on my family, so I wanted to stand up to cancer and join the fight. I️ also wanted to give the Goras a weekend a weekend they’d never forget. I️ wanted to give them a chance to be carefree for a weekend, while knowing they were surrounded by people who love and care for them.

 

Wrap up your 46 hours in one sentence. 

  • A once in a lifetime experience.

What are you doing now/once you graduate?

  • Once I️ graduate I️ hope to become a preschool teacher and help make a difference in young children’s lives.

 

 

Matt Skwirut

Graduation Year: December 2018
Major: Masters of Accounting Program

Minor: Information Systems Management

What has been your involvement with Ayuda and THON?

  • I have been involved with Ayuda for 4 years, as a general member, a fundraising chair twice, and as the Vice President senior year. Also, I was an OPP committee member as a sophomore, a Finance committee member Junior year, and served as a Captain for the Finance Committee senior year!

 

Why did you choose to apply to dance in THON?

  • I wanted to apply to represent Ayuda as a dancer in THON 2019 for lots of people. For friends and families that have been affected by childhood cancer, for the Goras and for the entire org! I thought dancing was a different way to give all that I could to THON.

What did dancing in THON mean to you?

  • Throughout the weekend, you really go through a roller coaster of emotions. You are excited to go through this adventure with your fellow dancers, Ayuda members, and other friends from other clubs/orgs. You are happy to spend time with the Goras and other kids who are conquering this terrible disease. You think about the friends who have lost their fight, and how we still have a ways to go. But at the end of the weekend, you know that all the work we’ve done throughout the year culminates in a total that you know will make a difference.

 

Wrap up your 46 hours in one sentence. 

  • A truly unforgettable experience- besides for when I was delirious, because a couple hours were definitely a blur!

What are you doing now/once you graduate?

  • I have accepted a full time offer from Deloitte and plan to start at the end of Summer 2019. In the meantime, I plan to study and pass the CPA exam, as well as enjoy some time off!