1/26/21: Tim Cicala

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Please show the video before showing my message. https://youtu.be/fSyt3SkvAmw 

Hello All,

Happy FOTO Meeting Monday! Enjoy your time now because before you know it, you’ll just be in regular meeting Monday at work (just doesn’t have the same energy :/). For those of you who may not know me, my name is Tim Cicala & I graduated in 2019. 

Joining FOTO was by far the greatest decision I made throughout my college career. 

The video you just saw & this accompanying image was a result of a running joke we had not long after joining FOTO freshman year. Our high school friend group was very close & we decided to join FOTO because Jake & Joe had brothers that were alumni of FOTO. We quickly became involved & we were welcomed with open arms. We became known as the “pledges” of FOTO because we came to every event & we always showed up as a group. I think that hilariously stupid video that you just watched really epitomizes our time in FOTO & the energy that we brought to the group. 

FOTO has literally given me countless blessings in my life, not the least of which all of the amazing people that I became immediately connected with upon joining this great organization. I had the honor of serving on 2 executive boards my sophomore & junior year as VP, fundraising chair, & donor & alumni relations chair. After becoming involved with FOTO, it was clear that everyone in the organization shared a similar vision & that these were people that I was happy to make new friends with. However, my connection to FOTO became infinitely deeper after meeting our wonderful families for the first time (at that time, it was only the Eslingers & the Knapers). It became so much more clear why this group was so motivated in its mission & I was humbled to be a part of it. 

Then came the Tramels! My sophomore year, the executive board was working hard on an application to be matched with a 3rd family after having decided we had the capacity to help more since Meghan & Logan were both (thankfully) cancer-free at that point. We spent lots of time carefully reviewing all of our answers on the application making sure every detail was perfect because we wanted it SO bad. I will never forget the feeling that I had when we finally got the news that we were selected to be paired with a 3rd family — the Tramels. Our lives were forever changed for the better. The executive board took a trip out to see them for the first time. We immediately discovered that we couldn’t have been more blessed, or better paired, with an amazing family such as the Tramels. Three little boys with incredible energy & sense of wonder. We instantly fell in love & we knew the feeling was mutual as they were begging us not to leave & asking when we’d be back. Our hearts broke for Matty & his family as he was going through treatment & the many complications that came with it. But we stood ready to help in absolutely anyway we could. And through the grace of God, Matty too was one day cancer-free after a long & hard-fought battle.  

FOTO IS family. FOTO was the defining experience of my time at Penn State & I am immeasurably grateful for the memories that I made & the FAMILY that I met as a result of it. My FOTO family are the kinds of people that would do anything for you. They would happily be the target of literally gallons of water being shot from water guns, they would be there for support through good times & bad, they’re the kinds of people you’d want to spend 30+ hours round-trip in a packed car on the way to Mardi Gras, they’re the kinds of people that you know you’ll be connected with for the rest of your life & who will always be there, the same way they were through the 4 short years that we spent together at Penn State. 

My advice to all of you is this — be there for one another, always. If your experience is anything like mine was, you’ll be looking back as I am now, with tears in your eyes, thanking God that you somehow ended up a part of this amazing family. You’ll be wondering what you ever did to deserve such amazing people in your life & you’ll smile because you couldn’t have imagined it any other way. 

Love to all of you.

Tim

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