By Rachel Gluck, Director of Philanthropy
On Nov. 13 the PRSSA THON chairs attended the Life Sciences Future Conference in Philadelphia. This is a conference with a focus on the newest scientific advancements while looking into the future of their industry. More than 1,000 professionals attended.
At the beginning of September a Penn State alumnus reached out to our committee, inviting us to attend the Life Sciences Future Conference. She informed us that the Whitehead family would be speaking during the “Patient Spotlight” segment of the conference. We took this as a great opportunity not only to support our amazing THON family, but as a way to spread awareness of our cause as well.
After discussing the logistics, the conference waved our registration fee and even donated a display table. During the past two months PRSSA THON worked on putting together a tri-fold, photo album, informational pamphlets and more. We were ready to spread THON’s mission and all the amazing things it provides.
On Nov. 12 we packed the car and headed to Philadelphia. First we stopped in Harrisburg to enjoy a wonderful dinner with the Whiteheads. That evening a few of the THON chairs visited the Whiteheads at their hotel and went swimming with Emily!
The next morning the chairs headed to the conference, checked in and set up our display table. We paused for a moment to admire our hard work coming together. The table was professional yet inspirational; exactly what we were hoping for.
As the day passed we explained to many professionals what THON is, what we do and about the Whiteheads. Those who had never heard of THON truly were interested in learning more and it was exciting to see their reactions. There was also many Penn State alumni who also were happy to see us as well.
Around lunchtime the Whiteheads took to the stage to tell Emily’s story. Every time they speak about Emily and her journey, you cannot help but tear up. I can almost guarantee that there weren’t any dry eyes in that audience. It was wonderful to see the Whiteheads share their story but even more wonderful that these professionals were able to see that their work is not going unnoticed. It is a true miracle that Emma is 18 months cancer free, and we are all hopeful that one day we will find a cure.
As the day ended we packed up our table and headed back to State College. The conference was a huge success. Every day we get to spend with Emma is a blessing. Being able to see her smile and laugh is the reason we THON every day and the reason we took this opportunity to spread awareness.
For The Kids, For The Cure, For Emma.