Location: Carlisle, PA
Connection to Four Diamonds: I serve as Operations Director at Penn State Children's Hospital.
Years of Involvement: I began working at the Children's Hospital in 2002 and on the administrative end of things with Pediatric Hematology/Oncology and Four Diamonds in 2004.
How are/were you involved with Four Diamonds and THON?
I have the pleasure and responsibility to assist in the oversight and administration of the Four Diamonds funds. This includes reviewing and updating the Four Diamonds guidelines with the team at Penn State Children's Hospital (PSCH), overseeing the financial accounting of the funds and serving on the committee that oversees the allocation process for the funds. I have the pleasure of meeting the executive team each year and providing a tour for them of the Children's Hospital while thanking them for their efforts. I also get to speak with various Penn State organizations and Mini-THON groups that come to tour PSCH to understand the impact their efforts have on the lives of the children we serve. I was honored to be the keynote speaker at the 2016 Road to THON dinner.
Why is the partnership between Four Diamonds and THON important?
There are so many ways the partnership between Four Diamonds and THON is so very important - the care we can offer families without them having to worry about how they'll pay, the researchers we are able to attract to the Children's Hospital who seek to understand this disease and to beat it back as we look for cures, the music therapist we can have sit with a child who is sequestered to their unit for six months after a bone marrow transplant but can lose themselves for just a few moments while banging on a drum or singing a silly song; none of that happens without this partnership. This partnership means hope and strength for those in a time of great need. It also means a community that can envelope and surround a whole family - patient, parents, siblings - with love and support through good times and bad, through remission and loss.
What is your favorite memory?
What I love most is that it gives ME hope in our future. We have generations of Penn Staters who year after year show the power of focus and positivity. With a determined dedication to this single cause, their intentions and objectives clear, they make a difference annually in the fight against pediatric cancer. And they inspire scores of students to follow - just look at the Four Diamonds Mini-THON program. There are leaders being developed who carry with them a passion for service. When you see a yellow school bus bring a group of high-school Mini-THONers to see THON, and you watch them enter the BJC and their eyes go wide - you can just see their minds saying, "I want to be here. I want to do this. I can make a difference. I belong. Look out world, just watch me now!"
What is your dream for Four Diamonds and THON over the next 40 years?
I would love to see the continued investment we are able to make in research as a result of THON's success and partnership pay off with novel treatments and other care modalities, which help to mitigate the side effects of treatment and provide better quality of life to the patients we serve. The discovery of new drugs to battle cancer and new targeted delivery methods to minimize side effects, and one day CURES that result from this investment...to have everyone who has danced or canned or had any part in THON to be able to look back and tell their kids and grandkids, "I helped make that happen!", that's what I'd like to see happen over the next 40 years!