Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Though wonderful, THON could use improvements

Now that a few days have passed, and I have gotten to bask in all the post-$10.6 million dollar glory THON brought upon us, it is time to get down to the nitty-gritty. There's no doubt that THON is wonderful -- the hard work and dedication that I have seen throughout the last four years is enough to make me believe anything is possible. The smiles I see on the THON kids that come to the BJC make me feel better than anything in the entire world. Crying side by side with people you've become so close with during the last six months creates a bond like no other. So, THON really has changed me and made me realize what is important in life. The hard work and effort I've put in is nothing compared to chemotherapy the kids go through and I know that.

With that being said, I believe there are somethings that should be re-evaluated in order to make such a big operation run more smoothly. I understand that no organization or event as big as THON will ever be perfect, however, there are somethings that I feel could be changed, but for some reason cause problems year after year.

I'll start by saying that I have only ever been on a committee, I have not held any leadership position as far as THON goes. Therefore, I may have an inaccurate picture of what is really happening. These "changes" I'm suggesting are only from my own point of view as a committee member.

I understand how much work captains put towards THON to make it a success. Their leadership and hard-work does not go unnoticed. It is even more amazing that they complete difficult tasks under little sleep -- captains usually get two 4-hour sleep shifts during THON weekend. Those shifts still happen at the BJC, so you can imagine how hard it is to actually fall asleep. Though it's really cool to be able to see what they accomplished while "running on E," by 10 p.m. on Sunday night, it starts to make me wonder. I have been on OPP, which is the committee responsible for setting up the BJC and cleaning it up afterwards. Our captains usually have to be at the BJC at 4 a.m. on Friday, and stay there until tear down is completed Sunday night (this year it took them until 1:30 a.m.)

It seems to me that things could run much more smoothly if the people in charge were well rested. By this time on Sunday, they've been overloaded with loud music, stress, and constant flows of people on and off the floor, and that's not even mentioning the sleep deprivation. I was tired, and I got to go home and sleep. It just doesn't seem logical to me that people who are in charge of running such a successful and huge event do not get the chance to take care of themselves properly. There are more than enough captains - -and if not, enough people who can carry out the job -- that the people in charge of THON should be able to take some time off and rest properly. It may make things run more smoothly during tough hours when the BJC staff are setting their standards ridiculously high.

If you have ever been a part of THON, or know anyone that has, you probably have an idea that Rules and Regulations is the committee everyone hates. Since they are in charge of keeping order in the BJC, they are usually the ones to point out what you are doing wrong -- hence, the dislike. My roommate was on R&R and after talking to her I understood that their shifts were really long -- usually 6 hours on and only 4 hours off all weekend. So along with being exhausted, they also had the mentally difficult task of yelling at people, which isn't exactly easy. However, for things to run smoothly, it needs to be done.

That being said, sometimes our committee didn't know they were standing in the wrong hallway, or exiting through the wrong doors. I felt that their approach was way too rude -- many times I could have kindly been told I was in the wrong spot instead of having to deal with the nasty wrath of a R&R member. Being yelled at just made me want to defy everything they said instead of cooperating.

When it comes to break down on Sunday night -- we get there at 4 p.m. and do not leave until usually about 11 p.m. During that time, there is no food available at the BJC. This year, some of the tasks were outside in 25 degree weather, and committee members did not have access to their coats. Towards the end the bathrooms were even off-limits. I am 100% willing to do the shitty job -- cleaning up after everyone is already home in bed. But when I don't have access to my jacket -- even after asking 3 times for it -- I start to get a little agitated. The thing is, committee members want to help, but when they feel as though they are not being heard on things such as having a bathroom and completing outside tasks in shorts and a t-shirt, it makes it ten times harder for us to want to cooperate.

Lastly, I completely understand that to be kind to the dancers (the people who stand for 46 hours with no sleep, no sitting), people should remain standing while in the stands at the BJC. However, I've seen older people get yelled at for sitting after they've been standing for hours. On Sunday, most people get there at 8 a.m. and don't leave until 4 p.m. If you are older, this could be really hard to stay on your feet for (it's difficult for me!). I understand making sure the majority of people don't sit, but when my parents had been standing for four hours and decided to sit for a few minutes, it broke my heart to see them get yelled at. The R&R people weren't even nice about it. The way I see it, the dancers chose to dance. They knew they'd be standing for 46 hours and no one is making them. Like I said, out of courtesy, people should stand while supporting them -- but if an elderly person needs to rest their legs than maybe R&R should pretend they have a heart and turn a blind eye.

If THON is so successful now, imagine what it would be like if people took the time to critique what is working and what is not -- instead of making the same mistakes year after year. Like I stated before, I love THON; it has changed me in so many ways. Allowing the kids a weekend away from Hershey Medical Center is awesome, especially because they so clearly enjoy their time there. I love that we can say we've put millions of dollars towards helping them fight cancer. But every good operation needs some critique.