Meet Torie Taylor, the Vice President of External Relations for this year’s HuskyTHON.
Hobbies: Running half marathons, watching The Office and Parks and Recreation on Netflix, and spending time with family and friends
What is HuskyTHON?
HuskyTHON is a year-long fundraiser leading up to an 18-hour dance marathon that raises funds for Connecticut Children’s Medical Center. The Medical Center treats and cares for children with life-threatening illnesses. HuskyTHON is the 2nd largest annual event donor to the Hospital, right behind the Storybook Gala. According to the HuskyTHON official website, last year alone, HuskyTHON raised over $560,000 for the CT CHildren’s Medical Center with 1908 dancers and 511 volunteers!
How and when did you first get involved in HuskyTHON?
I first got involved with HuskyTHON three years ago during my junior year with Student Nurses’ Association and my biggest regret is that I didn’t start sooner. I was a Dancer my first year, then a Morale Captain last year and now I am on the Management Team!
How did you get this position?
I actually originally applied to the Director of Campus Involvement position and then Molly and Derek (The Executive Directors) asked me if I wanted to be the VP of External Relations, so I happily accepted! I applied because I always found myself thinking with a “Management Team mindset,” meaning that I was always thinking about HuskyTHON and how it can be transformed and changed for the better! I’m so grateful to be a part of the Management Team for an amazing event that does so much good for the kids that utilize the services at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center.
What are your duties as VP of External Relations?
My job is to reach out to the community outside of just our campus and students here at UConn. I reach out to schools; I post flyers in the grocery stores, post offices, and community centers, anywhere with a lot of foot traffic. HuskyTHON is rapidly growing, and as we continue to gain more traction on campus among students, we are going to need to expand and reach out to the faculty, staff, and local community to continue to grow! This year I have been working to involve our athletics teams, the UConn faculty and staff, and the local community to raise awareness about HuskyTHON and gain support from them. It’s been an awesome experience and I hope to be setting some of the groundwork for the VPs of External Relations for years to come.
I also manage our External Relations team. Katie Bentivegna is in charge of running our mini marathons called JonaTHONS. Our JonaTHON program takes “mini” HuskyTHON’s to schools all over the state, as well as supports any other fundraiser schools that choose to partake in to raise money for HuskyTHON. Sarah Birdsall and Morgan Turner are the Co-Directors of Family Relations and work with Scott Organek, who is the Director of Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals at the Connecticut Children’s Foundation. And finally, Nicki Cartier is in charge of alumni relations and keeping our alumni involved in the fundraising.
I have goals set for myself, to get our athletic teams more involved and the faculty as well, which is going really well!
What is your favorite/best part about HuskyTHON?
My favorite part is seeing the kids at the event and knowing that just by participating in HuskyTHON I am helping them. It’s such a full circle experience. These kids have gone through so much at such a young age so to see them having fun and dancing and being so full of life and happiness is amazing, and it’s great to know that events like this are what provide the hospital with the means to be able to provide the best care for these kids. The energy in the fieldhouse during those 18 hours is just indescribable. If I had to pick a specific part of HuskyTHON that is my favorite, I would have to pick two: the opening and closing ceremonies. They’re the most special, surreal moments at HuskyTHON – being introduced to such incredible kids at the beginning of the night and then finding out how much we raised right before the event ends are definitely my favorite parts of HuskyTHON.
What advice can you give to people doing their first HuskyTHON?
Bring an extra pair of socks and stay for the full 18 hours! It is more rewarding when you stay from the opening to the closing ceremony because you get that feeling of instant gratification when they reveal how much money we raised for the kids.
Also have fun! That’s what this whole event is centered around: having fun for the kids and with the kids.
Any tips for handling the 18 hours of dancing?
Don’t stop moving! When you stop moving you start to think about how tired you are, so even if you just stand and rock back and forth it’ll do wonders. Also, bring an extra pair of socks and shoes, very important.
Are there other ways to get involved with HuskyTHON if you don’t think you can last the full 18 hours on your feet?
Of course! There are so many ways you can contribute. If you know someone with a fundraising page you can always donate to them directly. Come to our special events throughout the school year that I mentioned previously such as ZombieTHON, ZumbaTHON and AcaTHON. We also host a Late Night each semester and various teams participating in HuskyTHON hold fundraisers all over campus and at local restaurants around campus – so going to those helps contribute to HuskyTHON, too! You can also pay $10 at the door to get the HuskyTHON experience and stay for as long as you’d like.
What is your favorite thing about being a Husky?
It’s an indescribable feeling being on this campus. It just feels right and I feel at home here. I grew up in Connecticut as a Huskies fan always having a lot of UConn pride, so it’s very fitting that I found myself here for college and finally being able to call myself a Husky.
If people are on the fence about joining a team what would you say to them right now?
Do it! I said this before but my biggest regret is not having done it sooner. We are contributing to helping change the lives of these kids that we interact with at HuskyTHON and all of the other kids that utilize CT Children’s on a daily basis. Definitely join a team and try it for the whole 18 hours, you won’t regret it!
Keep an eye on our “Profile” articles these next couple of weeks to learn more about the amazing people who run HuskyTHON’s executive board!