Tori Fanucci ’16, a senior at West Virginia University, devoted a significant portion of her college career to running her school’s MountaineerTHON and rebranding the 21-year old organization. She participated in Trinity’s mini-THON each year of high school, at first just attracted to what THON stood for, and growing passionate about its mission over time. Mrs. Lindholm and Mrs. Stager, Trinity’s mini-THON moderators at the time, helped her grow through their support and advice. By her senior year, finding a college that had a THON was a key factor in her college choice. “I knew that I wanted to continue participating in Dance Marathons and working to raise money for children’s charities,” Tori said.
West Virginia University’s MountaineerTHON is an 8-hour event with up to 400 participants. Tori served on the Executive Board every year at WVU, including serving as the Director, Executive President, and President (after the restructuring that Tori helped to lead). Practically, that meant Tori oversaw and assisted all committees, organized team building, and acted as a liaison between MountaineerTHON, Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, WVU Medicine Children’s, and the University, and did general community outreach.
Besides the time commitment required to run THON each year and balancing demanding biology and Italian courses, Tori worked to rebrand the MountaineerTHON. Despite existing for more than two decades, the program was not a prominent feature of the school. Tori led a rebranding effort beginning at the end of her sophomore year, meant to create a sustainable organization structure. Tori was just recognized by Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals for the Miracle Network Dance Marathon Distinguished Leader Award for these efforts.
In the end, Tori was motivated by the relationships she built with her peers and the Miracle Kids and their families. She said, the Miracle Kids were an “inspiration” to her. “It was amazing being able to celebrate our organization’s accomplishments alongside them. I’ve been able to interact with some of the families outside of just MountaineerTHON events and this has played a huge role in helping me to determine what I want to do after graduation and throughout my life,” she said. After graduating with a Bachelors of Science in Biology and a minor in Italian, Tori plans to take a gap year and start medical school in the Fall of 2021, with the plan of specializing in pediatric surgery.