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10 Questions With 46Live’s Casey Kummer

If you were watching THON 2021’s livestream late into the night or during the wee hours of the morning, you likely caught a few 46Live interviews with Penn State senior Casey Kummer.

During virtual THON’s break periods from midnight to 6 a.m., 46Live played a loop of Kummer’s interviews with several folks who had danced in past THONs. The interviews caught on with everyone watching the livestream, and one of our staffers even managed to power rank each of them.

After a whirlwind weekend, we sat down with Kummer to discuss her experience with 46Live and this year’s virtual THON.

Onward State: When and how did you get involved with 46Live?

Casey Kummer: So, I have been really involved with THON in the past, but I had never done 46Live, and I’m a senior, so this is my fourth THON. Over the past three years, though, freshman year I danced, the next two years I was a chair for figure skating, and then this year, I’m a chair for Tri Sigma and TKE.

I’ve been on Dancer Relations Committees and I’ve been on a Communications Committee. I had done everything that I wanted to do inside of THON, but I wanted to do something that was a little bit different and that was more related to what I wanted to do with my career after college. I really just wanted a different avenue for my senior year so that was pretty much the drive behind why I wanted to do 46Live and get so involved.

OS: What else are you involved with at Penn State outside of 46Live?

CK: So, I’m in Tri Sig and I’m on the figure skating team. I’m one of the coordinators for PSATA, which is Penn State Athletes Take Action. I’m also a fitness instructor and am in Phi Gamma Nu, which is a business fraternity. I also just started doing some stuff with Penn State Sports Night.

OS: What was it like to be “the face” of THON 2021 from midnight to 6 a.m.?

CK: I would never say that I was the face of THON. I think that obviously, the children and the families are always the face of THON, which is something I felt very passionately about over the past three years.

But I thought it was funny that they played it continuously from midnight to 6 a.m. I had no clue that they were going to do that at all. The first one played around 8 p.m. on Friday night, and I was actually heading to the BJC for my first 46Live shift. I didn’t even realize it, and then I was like, “Why am I getting random Snapchats from people I haven’t talked to in years?”

I woke up on Saturday and everyone is like, “There’s a meme about you. They literally played you nonstop from midnight to 6 a.m.” It’s a funny experience, but I definitely don’t ever think I was the face or anything. I always say that it’s about the families and the kids. It doesn’t matter. We’re all in it for the same goal, and everyone for 46Live had the same opportunities to interview and host on THON weekend. It’s always a collective effort.

OS: How’d you decide you were going to do these interviews with 46Live?

CK: We didn’t really know until like a month before THON what we were going to be doing for 46Live just because of how unprecedented this year was. One of the things we could do was reach out to past dancers because there weren’t any restrictions on that for public relations through THON.

As a senior, I knew a lot of people who had danced and I knew a lot of people that knew other people with interesting stories. I sent a text to a bunch of people just asking if they’d want to do a 10-minute interview, and most were really receptive. I honestly would’ve done more if I had more time, but like I said, we only had two or three weeks to do it. I loved doing it and I loved hearing about people’s stories.

I don’t know if they even played this one, but I interviewed someone who danced in 2001, and he had his first THON in 1997 in the White Building. There’s just so much history that you find out about, and I think it’s really cool to be able to pull out people’s stories and show why they did it. I think that experience helped out dancers this year and can help future dancers as well.

OS: Since all of those interviews were pre-recorded, what were you doing during THON?

CK: My title for 46Live was a host. I got to do one segment during the Final Four, which was truly terrifying because I knew everyone was watching, but it was a great way to close out my senior year. Throughout the rest of the weekend, I was doing so much on 46Live’s social media accounts, and I covered the pep rally and the total reveal from the floor. That was a really unique moment just being one of the few people who was even allowed inside of the BJC during THON Weekend. I was truly grateful for that.

A lot of the time I asked people to DM me on my own account and on the 46Live account if they wanted to see where their section was and what their letters looked like in the stands. I thought that was a really cool way to connect with people and make them feel a little bit closer to the BJC. I even found one lady a sign of her son, who was in the Ohana section.

This year was obviously so different and there wasn’t as much to do for the hosts, but I tried to make the most out of the situation and really used social media to do that.

OS: Did any friends of family reach out when they kept seeing you on the livestream?

CK: My grandpa texted me really early Saturday morning. He was wondering why I was up, so I told him I’d been up for 37 hours this weekend but explained that it also wasn’t live. A lot of people were Snapchatting me, but that sort of faded out towards the end of the weekend because people were just tired of seeing me.

At one point I was at my friend’s apartment helping them get through some of the tough hours, and I told them to please turn it off because I was tired of seeing myself talk. But yeah, definitely got a lot of Snapchats and Instagram follow requests. The whole thing was just funny, but I obviously enjoyed it, and it was a surreal experience.

OS: We ended up power ranking your interviews over the course of THON Weekend, Do you have a favorite one?

CK: I don’t even know if all of the interviews played because I did about 16 to 17. But I loved talking to Josh. He danced in 2001 and now works for Penn State. I just thought it was so interesting to have someone who danced 20 years ago, and his wife danced two years after him. I didn’t do an interview with her, but she did pop in at the end of the call, and I got to talk to her. I think just realizing that THON’s been around for so long and everyone has had such different experiences. When he danced, it wasn’t in the BJC, and they barely had any room to like walk around. It was so different and probably even more challenging just because they didn’t have the same resources.

Another one that I liked was Jordan Garrigan’s. She danced for fitness instructing back in 2016. She had a quote in her interview that went along the lines of, “Even though THON’s different, it’s still going to feel the same.” I just thought that it was super powerful because everyone always describes THON. Walking into the BJC isn’t something that you can describe. It’s a feeling. That really reminded me why everyone is working so hard to raise $10.6 million in a year like this.

Everyone did feel that same THON feeling this weekend, though. It probably was in little spurts, but it might’ve been things like getting a visit from your org or other things like that as a dancer. I think that’s something that should absolutely be highlighted and remembered.

OS: What was your favorite moment on this weekend’s livestream?

CK: I loved when I got to go on air. It was honestly a really hard moment because it was right at the end of Family Hour and the “Celebration Of Life” video. I was literally crying five minutes before, but I really wanted to do that moment justice. I think I did a decent job, but that was a really special moment just to be able to go live at the end of THON.

Overall one of my favorite moments I think would have been standing on the floor of the BJC when the weekend video recap was playing. I think that they really touched on the fact of how weird of a year this has been, but we’re still doing it, we’re still going through life, and we’re still coming together as a community. I think that was a really powerful moment for me reflecting on my senior year.

I also of course loved when the total was revealed. That was just really special to see from the floor. I was so impressed that the THON community was able to raise over $10 million in a year like this. I think that’s so truly impressive, and I really don’t know how they did it.

OS: How do you think virtual THON went overall compared to what you expected?

CK: I think it went amazing. I think for the dancers it’s kind of bittersweet. As someone who danced, I was able to go outside when I danced because Sunday morning I was like, not okay. I think that dancers being able to go outside, being able to eat whatever they wanted, being mobile, and being able to see different people safely was helpful. On the floor as a dancer, you don’t always have someone there with you, I think that those are some of the benefits. Obviously, you don’t have the energy of the BJC, you don’t have some of the resources. But even though it may have been bittersweet, I think all the dancers did amazing.

I know a lot of my friends did the entire 46 hours and were thriving. I think in a year likes this, having an event that’s so big and brings everyone together was absolutely something that the Penn State community needed. This weekend obviously gave everyone a sense of hope in the fight against childhood cancer but just a sense of hope for normalcy as well.

OS: Per Onward State tradition, if you could be any dinosaur what would it be and why?

CK: I’m gonna say pterodactyl, and I have a really weird reason why. I studied abroad my sophomore year and we went to the Amalfi Coast on one of the weekends. We were going around these cliffs and there were these big birds flying around that look like pterodactyls, and I think that area was one of the inspirations for “Jurassic Park.”

Whenever I think of pterodactyls, I think of those birds and being back in Italy, so that’s my reason. Oh, and flying is pretty cool, too.

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About the Author

Will Pegler

Will is a junior majoring in digital and print journalism and is an associate editor for Onward State. He is from Darien, Connecticut and is a lifelong Penn State football fan. He loves a good 80's comedy movie, Peaky Blinders, The Office, and the New York Yankees and Giants. You can catch some of his ridiculous sports takes on his Twitter @gritdude and yell at him on his email willpegler@onwardstate.com

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