When I first applied to be on the board of the South Asian Student Association, I did not know what I wanted to do. I just knew it was time to start stepping into a leadership role. When the chance to be a THON Chair came up, I knew I could not refuse. Being a part of the THON community at Penn State is just one of those things that you know you have to do before you graduate. To be a part of an organization that commits to making real change in the world.
I did not know what to expect at first. The previous year's THON chairs of my organization all reached out and congratulated me and said how this would be one of the most rewarding years of my life. And they were right. As cancer is a disease most of America is all too familiar with, I knew I could make a difference as a THON Chair. So my co-chair and I started planning all of our moves out for the whole year starting last summer.
With every fundraiser that passed by and every fundraising trip we took, I could already see a difference in myself. Something inside of me ignited with every dollar raised, wanting to raise even more—because even one more dollar can make a difference. When we took our first canvassing and ribbon sales trips, I fell in love with THON even more. Seeing almost 40 people in our organization come together and spend entire weekends fundraising for the kids was like nothing I have ever seen before. From waking up early to staying up and bonding, we all knew the one thing uniting us was raising money for the cause. After each of those weekends, I always had two feelings: one of pride and one of excitement for more.
But what people do not tell you is how hard it can be. When a fundraiser does not go as planned or gets canceled at the last minute, there is this feeling of defeat that you have to work past. Or that you and you co-chair are going to try hard to motivate people but not everyone will feel the same way as you about THON, and you just want to tell them all of the wonderful things we can do for the kids and make them understand, but you can't.
More than once, I can remember feeling frustrated that we may not meet our goals but for reasons out of our hands. But then you see all of the pictures on the THON social media pages of the children affected by cancer, still smiling and the joy they find during THON weekend, and you remember why you do this. You do it for them. You do it for their futures. You do it so every little boy and girl out there have a chance at growing up.
With THON right around the corner, I am so proud to be a THON chair. I feel okay about all of the downs, and happy about all of the ups because no matter how much we raised as an organization, we have the chance to help make life a little better for the children and their families affected by cancer. And I know that everything we do, it is for the kids.