1/17/23: Brooks West

To my FOTO fam,
This one may be a long one, but I promise you, you’ll want to listen up. If you’re wondering who the hell are all of these Alumni that reminisce about the past and tell me to go to meetings and bake sales every Monday, that’s definitely fair. But for me, FOTO was truly my life and I wouldn’t change anything about that from my years at Penn State, I even have the tattoo to prove it. In all reality, no matter how many hours I put in w/ being on the board for three years, dancing in THON, and being president – FOTO has given me a lot more than I’ve given it. It had this amazing way of giving you more than what you put in.
My first little piece of advice, especially cause you all will finally be packing the stands of the BJC next week, is MAKE FRIENDS IN FOTO. Drink [whatever you think, you fill in the blank, I didn’t say it] together on Thursdays, party during the day on Saturdays together, get lunch, study in the HUB til 4am during Finals together, (DO NOT find one person to gamble with that becomes your best friend because you may regret that). BUT The relationships are real. If you take one thing from me, truly try to make friends in FOTO. And it’s not too late. When love was still alive, I became friends with and fell in love with a girl that I dated for 4 years AT THON and remember the exact moment to this day during our “jersey theme” hour. Literally just jumping around in the stands delirious for hours. Talk to people. Don’t stand next to the person you know and out friends with already, talk to people you don’t usually talk to. Do the overnight shift and meet people, vibe, get deep, laugh, - it will make it go much much quicker too.
FOTO gave me lifelong friendships that I couldn’t dream of not having anymore. FOTO gave me that one group chat of guys that you still talk in everyday 2 years after you graduated (WORD to Broken Hearts & Basketball). FOTO gave me a group of people that I crash on their couches in Philly every weekend and still can’t wait to hang out with. FOTO gave me people that I love, people that I call when I need them, people that are always there. Find your people in FOTO and no matter what happens, you’ll never regret that. When people say FOTO is family, that’s what they mean, and I promise that’s not just bullshit. PLEASE take my advice on this!!
Bear with me OG FOTO members because I’m gonna tell the same story. But the reason you’re locked in and ready for THON, the reason you’re all in FOTO is for the kids. My favorite memory about the kids in FOTO came with Logan and Matty (not to downplay Megan – she’s literally a goat and the Queen of FOTO). But before I got in FOTO, when my older sister was in it, Logan was going through chemo and cancer. You see him not as a ninja warrior and almost forget he went through a lot of the worst days of his life with FOTO. But when Logan was on his last day of chemo. He beat cancer. He was in tears, crying to his mom, and asked her “Does this mean I won’t get to see FOTO anymore because I don’t have cancer?” In his darkest days he made it out alive and was more worried about seeing FOTO. When someone asks you why you THON, why you’re in FOTO – think of that, think of just how much you all mean to all three of our families.
When Matty was also going through chemo when I was in FOTO and very involved, I remember being at the Tramels in their basement – utter chaos. Running around, toys everywhere, screaming, nerf bullets whizzing all around. Matty calmly said hold on. Went to the bathroom. Threw up. Washed his hands and came back to play. In that moment it made me realize just how strong those kids were. No matter what was going on in my life, the stress of college, an exam – that little kid was going through cancer and doing it with a smile on his face. The strength of our FOTO families are remarkable and we should all try to live our lives with that bravery. Think of that if you’re tired during THON, next year when your feet hurt in the stands, when you’re just having a bad day – think of their incredible strength. 
THON is emotional so be prepared for one of the best weekends of your life. It’ll be even more special after so far gone from the BJC. Three years ago in the stands, when we saw our total. I cried. All of the hard work shows in that moment. You see the total and you should all feel something. You should feel proud. Know your efforts and the money you raised makes a difference. Make friends, laugh and cry with FOTO, love the families, and just have fun those 4 years you get it. Cause like me now, I miss it so fucking much. But I am so happy I got my friends and family for life. I love all of you guys even the ones I haven’t met cause you’re carrying on a legacy that means the world to me. Good luck, I’m proud of you, crush it in 1 month!!







©2023 FOTO