Leaders of the Interfraternity Council/Panhellenic Dance Marathon announced this week that they’ve created an award to recognize one person for their efforts and dedication to THON.
The Courtney O’Bryan Volunteer Award was created in honor of O’Bryan, a Penn State student who died in a car accident en route to a canning location last December. O’Bryan and four other women from her sorority, Sigma Delta Tau, were travelling to Buffalo, N.Y. when the car hit a patch of ice and flipped over.
Will Martin, THON overall chairperson, said students can visit the THON website and begin nominating participants who they believe “encompass the same qualities as O’Bryan.” These qualities include dedication to THON and their organization, compassionate nature and commendable fundraising efforts, he said. Members can be involved in any organization, THON committee, independent organization, dancer or general member, he said.
Students who wish to nominate someone must print and fill out three nomination forms before turning them into room 210 in the HUB-Robeson Center, Martin (senior-communication sciences and disorders) said. These applications are due by 5 p.m. on Tuesday, January 8, and no late applications will be accepted, he said.
These applications will be reviewed and narrowed down by the overall committee before being presented to the O’Bryan family, who will make the final decision, Martin said.
The winner of the award will be recognized at the Road to THON Celebration and onstage during THON weekend in February.
In an email from the sorority’s president, Sarah Abraham wrote that the members of Sigma Delta Tau are “thrilled” THON created the award to honor O’Bryan. Abraham wrote that O’Bryan was “selfless, loving and inspiring.”
“Her beautiful nature stays with us every day and motivates us to be the best we can be,” Abraham (junior-elementary education) wrote.
O’Bryan was a freshman and never had the opportunity to experience THON weekend, she said. The fact she was so dedicated to THON and involved in any way she could said a lot about the person she was, Abraham said. Many of the members of O’Bryan’s sorority attended their first canning weekend the same time O’Bryan did and, to this day, continue to talk about her excitement and willingness to help the cause, she said.
Overall Public Relations Chairwoman Cat Powers said the committee had been talking about creating the award since last year’s THON weekend. The committee decided they wanted to have something to honor O’Bryan, she said.
“This award represents her and will honor someone who will continue to carry on her legacy,” Powers (senior-public relations) said.
Powers said the overall committee presented the idea of the award to O’Bryan’s family, and they “rallied behind” the idea in hopes of keeping O’Bryan’s memory alive. Overall committee members wanted O’Bryan’s family to know her efforts did not go unnoticed, and they will make sure her spirit remains throughout THON weekend, she said.