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From Dancer To Director: Senior Closes Out THON Experience As Special Events Head

From Dancer To Director: Senior Closes Out THON Experience As Special Events Head

Over the last four years, Penn State senior Alyssa Bielinski has played many integral roles in helping to make THON a reality.

From a Rules and Regulations committee member in her freshman and sophomore years to a Special Events captain and independent dancer in her junior year, she’s now serving the THON community as the Special Events director for THON 2022.

Growing up in a Penn State family in Scranton, Pa., Bielinski had always been exposed to THON. Cancer also hits close to home for her, since her aunt passed away during her sophomore year at Penn State.

Bielinski’s role is primarily focused on pre-and post-THON events. She’s in charge of planning events like 100 Days ‘Til THON, the THON 5K, Family Carnival, the THON Showcase, THON history tours, and Athlete Hour.

Courtesy of Alyssa Bielinski

One of the main focuses when planning THON this year was ensuring the safety of the THON families and volunteers, which included virtual components, like the live stream, to in-person events.

“We were very successful in integrating a lot of hybrid events into our year to make sure that we were being as inclusive with all of our Four Diamonds families, our stakeholders, donors, and student volunteers,” Bielinski said.

Bielinski has always wanted to serve the THON community in any way she could to make a lasting impact. Last year, she danced as part of an independent dancer couple (IDC), which — along with serving on the THON executive committee — had always been a dream of hers.

“Having the opportunity to dance last year was 46 hours that I will quite literally never forget for the rest of my life, and the same goes for receiving the position as Special Events director this year,” she said. “I always felt like I had more to give for this organization so I never would have wanted to graduate in May without knowing that I gave it my absolute all. I dedicated every single ounce of me to this organization, which has been my goal since my freshman year.”

One of the greatest opportunities that has come with being the Special Events director for THON 2022, according to Bielinski, is the chance to bring people in the THON community together outside of the actual THON Weekend.

“Just being able to see [THON’s] mission grow each and every day leading up to this weekend, I know that it won’t stop once the 46 hours are over,” Bielinski said.

Leading up to this weekend, Bielinski prepared by prioritizing her health and despite it being hectic, making sure to pause and take in every moment coming into this weekend – something she wants to carry with her until she leaves the BJC on Sunday night.

So, what’s she looking forward to most about this weekend? The culmination of everything that THON has worked towards over the last year. Additionally, Bielinski is looking to everything from being back in person to watching people experience their first THON

“Everyone has put so much hard work and dedication into this all year long, and I’m just so excited to see it come to life,” she said.

Mackenzie is a senior majoring in English and is one of Onward State’s associate editors. She is from Minersville, PA, and is always trying to explain exactly where that is. Send all compliments to [email protected] or @MackenzieC__ on Twitter.