Meet Grace Desjardins!
Grace is a senior majoring in marketing from Malvern, PA. She’s spent her senior year as the Family Meals Captain of the Hospitality committee for THON 2018. Grace has worked towards her captain position through many years of dedication in multiple THON organizations and positions. Grace also spent her sophomore year dancing, making her experience with THON one of a kind.
Grace is an exemplary display of the vivacious and inspiring individuals who work tirelessly to perfect the fine details of THON weekend each year. I had the opportunity to speak with Grace about her many years of participation in and commitment to THON. I also got the inside scoop on her captain position and what it will involve during THON weekend this year:
Her Campus: When did you first begin participating in THON?
Grace Desjardins: I started participating in THON pretty much once I got to campus freshman year. I came knowing that I really wanted to be involved, so I made it a priority!
HC: What previous positions have you held for THON?
GD: My freshman year, I was the Special Events Co-Chair for the Sapphire Leadership Program (a fundraising organization.) I then served as the Primary Chair for Sapphire my sophomore year, which is also the year I danced. Last year, I was the Athletics & PR Liaison for Family Relations.
HC: What are the responsibilites involved with your position?
GD: The primary focus of my role is organizing the Family Meals for THON Weekend. It is my responsibility to make sure that all of the families are well-fed and that any special dietary needs are taken into consideration. Prior to THON Weekend, I have a few additional responsibilities. I make the Family Story of the Week presentations that are shown in Hospitality meetings, and I create menu previews for any event where families are served food. Additionally, I coordinated the Holiday Baskets that we sent to Hershey, and I created a HOSliday Cookie Exchange Book for our THON families from wonderful recipes submitted by our Committee Members and Captains! In addition to my specific role, I also have the absolute honor of leading a committee with a co-captain. They are some of the greatest people I know!
HC: Why is your position/ team important to the success of THON?
GD: Hospitality’s motto is “Fuel the Fight.” It is our job to make sure that everyone at THON is energized and motivated to take on the 46 hours. What’s really cool about HOS is that we get to work with all different groups involved in THON — volunteers, donors, and spectators. HOS is constantly working to make meals more nutritious and to incorporate new donors.
HC: Who do you interact with most during THON weekend?
GD: I will primarily be interacting with the families, since I will be at every Family Meal. That being said, I will also be in contact with my committee members, Family Relations, and OPP.
HC: If we see you running around the BJC during the weekend, where will you most likely be headed/ what will you most likely be doing?
GD: I will probably be checking up on Family Meals donations and supplies. Donations will be dropped off and picked up throughout THON weekend, so it will be important to make sure that everything is where it needs to be when it needs to be there.
HC: How has THON helped shape your perspective?
GD: Being involved in THON has given me the opportunity to meet so many inspiring people. THON families and volunteers alike have stories that show true strength and remind us just how lucky we are. The courage shown by the kids never fails to impress me. With respect to THON as an organization, it too has shaped my perspective. What I love about THON is that the purpose is so much bigger than any of us. I know that every minute I spend on my THON responsibilities is a minute that can help a child, which of course makes everything more than worth it!
HC: If you had advice you could give to dancers preparing for the weekend, what would it be?
GD: I definitely recommend eating healthy and going to the gym! It sounds cliche, but it is really helpful. You don’t need to be in phenomenal shape (I most certainly wasn’t), but it can be very helpful. Small things like not looking at the clock or pushing yourself to go a little harder than normal can help you prepare mentally. Most importantly, however, get excited!! This will seriously be the best weekend of your life. It can be daunting if you think about it too much, but just know that you are up to the challenge. Have fun!!
HC: What will you do when the weekend is over?
GD: “Cry, 110%.”
HC: What do you think the future of THON looks like at PSU?
GD: It looks unbelievably bright! Although I have no idea what the totals will look like, I know that more students will get involved and take the organization to new heights. More importantly, I know that all of the incredible families that join THON will find happiness from an otherwise terrible situation. At the end of the day, as long as we are doing that, we are sticking to the core of our mission.
HC: What advice do you have for someone thinking about getting more involved in THON?
GD: Try anything and everything! Through fundraising organizations, you can spread the mission of THON and see truly see the direct impact you’re making. You also might have the opportunity to be paired with a Four Diamonds Family, which is an unreal experience. There are so many wonderful stories of students who grow very close with their org’s family. Through committees, you get to see the inner workings of THON. There are so many different roles that committees play throughout the year, so you can apply for those that really interest you. Whatever you do, have fun with it! You might just meet your best friends through THON.