canning for cancer, dreams of Moore

As a Mt. Lebanon High School student, Kailyn Moore would pull up Paint, now practically a fossil, and create visual advertisements for her aunt’s local retail business. These days, she’s older, wiser and uses computer programs that are a bit more advanced than Paint; as a graphic design student at Penn State University, her portfolio boasts everything from magazine spreads and business cards to phone apps. And in November, she also became the face behind THON’s 2015 “Empower the Dreamers” logo. THON is the country’s largest student-run philanthropy, pulling in millions of dollars each year for the Four Diamonds Fund, which benefits pediatric cancer patients at Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital. The fundraiser culminates in February with a 46-hour dance marathon, where volunteer dancers don’t sit or sleep for the entirety of the event.

web-exclusive-logo2Every year, PSU students line the streets of various cities, holding tin cans with THON plastered all over the side. In rain or shine, snow or slush, they yell out to passing cars asking for donations. While “canning” is a big part of fundraising efforts, newsletters, pledges and phone calls also aid in the efforts. It pays off: over 83% of funds came from individual donations in 2013; the remainder comes from corporate gifts and small fundraising events. Last year, when the numbers came in, students had garnered more than $14 million in financial support. And this year, Moore’s logo will be on all of their T-shirts, as they once again take to the streets in an effort to battle pediatric cancer and support the kids who live through that fight.

2015’s theme, “Empower the Dreamers,” inspired Moore to create 10 preliminary designs featuring whimsical scenes—a kid in a castle, another blowing stars from his hand. “Sometimes the idea that hits you first is the strongest,” Moore said about the winning logo, which pictures a child painting the moon. It took her two and a half weeks to refine the image, playing with fonts, colors and little alterations. “I tend to be a bit of a perfectionist with all of the small details,” Moore confesses.

Her logo teems with those small details, which one could easily miss in a quick glance. There’s even a face tucked into the white space between the moon and the child. “This hidden image symbolizes the memory of the children in THON’s past and the legacy of children in THON’s future. It shows that THON is not simply about our THON children, but about all of those who are impacted by pediatric cancer worldwide.” Moore also sees the moon and stars as universal symbols of dreaming and a child as the perfect embodiment of imagination. She wants THON fundraisers to feel like they can “accomplish anything, regardless of boundaries,” and feel empowered to dream.

Moore’s perfectionism has served her well; she also designed PSU’s 2014 homecoming logo and is design director for Valley, Penn State’s life and style magazine. Her program at Penn State also demands the best from its 15 to 20 graphic design students per year. As a result of the rigorous curriculum, Moore says she’s worked on just about every aspect of design—from print and web to photograph and animation. The growing field of web design is her personal favorite, simply because there’s so much room for expansion and innovation. Her ability to dream up THON’s 2015 logo clicks into place.

Moore is a dreamer herself. Her own dreams of working for a fashion brand are already on the way to realization; this summer, she interned for Donna Karan. The most rewarding aspect of her internship was the opportunity to collaborate with departments beyond the design team, and work together towards a common goal.

This winter, all over the United States, Penn State students will stand on sidewalks next to movie theaters and malls, highways and parkways and throughways, with a tin can in one hand and a Penn State scarf wrapped around their neck. Drivers on their way to work will crack open their windows at a red light and drop their hard-earned dollars into those tin cans, and glance for a moment at Moore’s logo taped to the side of a tin or printed onto someone’s sweatshirt. The everyday workers, fundraisers, the families of pediatric cancer patients, children who have and have had cancer, children who will have cancer and finally Moore’s logo will all come together, just for a moment, as THON continues to push the boundaries of what’s possible and brings increasingly more money and strength to the fight against pediatric cancer.