I seem to always be the last one to post pictures from these major THON events, and as my Co-Captains would say, "I'm late to the party." Unlike the FT5K, however, I am only about a couple weeks behind as opposed to a couple of months, but who's counting? At last, these photos are hitting Facebook and every other social outlet I can get a hold of.
This major event called Family Carnival is like a mini THON in December where Committee Captains, Organizations, and Families are brought together in a carnival-like event before THON Weekend. Last year was the first time I was able to attend this event, and although I had fun, this year was phenomenal. Unlike like last year's Fam Carn, I brought my camera right from the get-go because I missed out on a significant amount of picture opportunities and I was not going to let that happen my second go-around. This year too, I feel like I let myself have a little fun and actually peruse the different booths and make the most of this awesome event. Family Carnival is different than most of the other events because for once, I feel like the OPP Captains don't have to run around endlessly and can fully enjoy hanging out with one another, friends, and of course the THON Families.
I truly believe one of the most enjoyable aspects of this year's event was having the opportunity to meet my THON Penn Pal. Lucky for my Committee, we have been given the opportunity to keep in contact with a THON child throughout the entirety of this year. This program is amazing because it allows my Committee to connect with a THON child, and gives that child a chance to talk to some pretty cool Penn State kids - if I say so myself - and make 37 new best friends instantly. It wasn't until Fam Carn that I discovered my Penn Pal was famous in the THON Community, starring in most of the Committee of the Week videos, and sometimes giving advice on what to do when given 1,000 THON t-shirts. I also discovered that day that I was not only going to be hanging out with my Penn Pal, but fortunately, my roommate, best friend, and fellow OPPerations Captain was paired up with his little brother, so we got the chance to hangout and play some of the games with both of these guys!
Four hours could not have flown by faster. I say that now knowing that my THON blog post will most likely have the words, "46 hours went by in the blink of an eye" because these events are so exhilarating and fast-paced that they truly come and go as if the weekend was a dream. But as we spent the next 5 hours following the event cleaning the White Building and transporting all of our supplies and games back to Blue Storage, I can't say I would have wanted to be anywhere else. These Captains, these 21 best friends of mine, and 21 individuals I call family make my Penn State experience more memorable than I could have ever imagined. My cousin claims that if she had to introduce me to someone, she would say, "this is Andy, and he loves THON." This makes me laugh because from a non-Penn Stater, it might seem like we live, breathe, and talk endlessly about this organization. And to some extent, that is exactly what we do. THON has easily made me a better person and a harder working individual and I think back to my first ever THON Committee, the Hulk Homans, and cannot explain how thankful I am that I was a part of Amy Homan's Committee as a little freshman.
These events always seem to remind me why I became a part of this organization four years ago. Those three powerful words, For The Kids, have been engrained into my every day life at this point. This year, as I captured pictures of my friends, girlfriend :), and random THON volunteers, I tried to focus my attention on moments where these kids were able to let go of their stress and be kids for just a moment. No matter how short this event seemed to me, I am positive that it was one of the best moments these kids have had all year, and I can't explain how grateful I am to have shared that with them. Every smile I captured made me smile going back through these photos today. There's only about two months left before THON Weekend, and I am honestly counting down the days!