9/6/22: Reilly Burton



Ah! This is really weird! No amount of alumni of the weeks could have prepared me to write my own… 

Okay hi FOTO fam!! I miss you guys and FOTO meeting Mondays so much! Happy 2nd meeting of the year:))) For those who don’t know me, my name is Reilly Burton, and I just graduated this past May with my degree in film production. I joined FOTO the first month of my freshman year (which seriously feels like yesterday), and I can genuinely say from my very first meeting, I had a feeling FOTO would be pretty important to me for the rest of my college experience (I didn't realize it would be for my life at the time). I tried every club possible when I was finding my way freshman year, but none of them compared to FOTO. 

FOTO just had something special… and it all started with the people. I could go on and on describing how great everyone is, but FOTO continues to amaze me with the incredible family that we build year after year. We are a family, but everyone is also your best friend, your teammate, your adventure buddy, your rock for when you dance for 46 hours (oh I also danced in THON this past year which was a life-changing emotional crazy ride). And then you have our three THON children, who not only remind us why we’re doing what we do, but they’re each such an inspiration. Thinking of them is a constant reminder that if they can fight cancer and beat it, we can all find our strength in moments we feel lost or hopeless or weak. I know they’ve helped me in more moments than they’ll ever know. 


SO, FOTO has left a lasting mark on my life all for the better.  


To tell you a little about my journey, I became a liaison the fall of my sophomore year, then one of the communications officers for my junior and senior year! (shoutout leeshy & tanner <3 u guys are killin it) I joined FOTO with my freshman year roommate (rylee, yes 2 reillys R^squared) and not only did we stay dedicated to FOTO for all 4 years, but we danced together and are still super close to this day. (plus I met literally all of my roommates through FOTO including leeshy)      

It was life changing meeting the people I did and making a positive difference in the lives of children and families fighting pediatric cancer. But, I also was able to combine 2 things I love, making a positive impact on the world and my passion for film and video. I’ve wanted to work in the film industry all my life, ultimately moving to LA to make movies and TV shows. Crazily enough, I’m moving to Los Angeles next week to fulfill this lifelong dream, and FOTO genuinely played a huge part in me getting to this point.

As communications officer, I got to take many, many pictures and videos of FOTO events throughout the year and then make recap vids! Not only did I learn a lot about myself and grow my skills, but I had the incredible opportunity of capturing such pure, sweet moments of joy and happiness during the times with our families. I was helping to make a positive difference and aid in FOTO becoming a successful organization while also gaining confidence in my own abilities doing something I ADORED. Even though I put my precious, very expensive camera at risk every time I filmed Matty (it honestly probably has water damage but that’s okay it was worth it) 


One other thing to note!! Then I'm done!


This was pretty special - I watched Matty turn into a healthy boy right before my eyes. Freshman year, we visited the Tramels, and it was clear Matty was sick. Just a few years later, after going through treatments and finally being in remission, Matty turned into a healthy little boy and was living the life he deserved. (I made this video before THON this year that shows a lot of cool stuff about FOTO and how much Matty has changed over the years - don't have to play it now just if anyone wants to watch!! link is at the top) But once again, Matty, Logan, and Megan will be sources of inspiration for myself for the rest of my life. 


SORRY I could go on forever!!! If you’re going to take anything from this message: 

  1. FOTO was one of the first places where I felt like I belonged. Like I genuinely had a second family. It's cool to have a group of people who are truly there for each other.  
  2. You get out of this organization what you put into it. Go to every Monday meeting, bake sale, family visit, hub hangout, bowling night, mount nittany hike, and any other social events. I can tell you one thing, all of those events are the ones I cherish and miss the most… you might just make friends (and a family) for life if you dedicate your time and energy to FOTO. 
  3. Put yourself out there! Donate your hair at THON, audition for the showcase, perform a silly song in FOTO's talent show, sing a Cheetah Girls song in front of everyone at a meeting... there is so much ahead of you to look forward to. 
  4. If you’re looking for a group of like-minded people working towards the goal of making the world a better place and helping families affected by pediatric cancer, you’ve found the people. They’re just all great. I can’t think of any other way to say it... talk to all of them after the meeting if you haven’t yet and you’ll see!! 
  5. Just stick with FOTO and you will NOT regret it!! I have some of the coolest, kindest, funniest, most hardworking, most supportive, and loving people in my life now. EEE crying miss you guys! 



Clearly FOTO is pretty special if I could go on and on!!! I'm always here if anyone ever needs advice/hear more about my FOTO experience or talk about dancing or anything else THON/FOTO-related (or film/Penn State-related)!

I'm SO excited to see what you all will accomplish, I'll be cheering you on and looking on proudly from the west coast :)) <3


Lots of love, 








 leeeesh.jpghehe sorry alicia<3




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