Harrisburg event series announces 2022 schedule, new branding and mission

Très Bonne Année, a series of annual wine and food events in Harrisburg, has announced its 2022 events schedule. 

Since it was founded nearly 20 years ago, Très Bonne Année has raised more than $5.6 million for Harrisburg’s Whitaker Center for Science and the Arts. All funding raised through Très Bonne Année events is given towards learning experiences, STEM programs and camps and more. 

This year’s events include a Spring Wine Tasting at the Hilton Harrisburg on June 11th, a Patrons Party at the Ashcombe Mansion on Sept. 11th, a Vintners Dinner at the Whitaker Center on Oct. 7th and a Grand Gala at the Whitaker Center on Oct. 8th. 

This year, Très Bonne Année has announced new branding and mission under the theme of “Celebrate Life!” 

“We are revitalizing our offerings for 2022 to ensure we connect the community and celebrate life as we spring back to our social lives,” said Très Bonne Année Board Member Kelly Hollinger. 

The event series’ honorary guest for the year is Glen Head, New York-based Banfi Vinters. 

Christina Mariani-May, president and CEO at Banfi Vinters, has been celebrated as one of the 50 most influential women in wine and spirits, according to a statement from Très Bonne Année. 

Four Diamonds’ executive director Suzanne Graney talks legacy, philanthropy and growth 

Penn State students announce the final tally for THON 2022. PHOTO/PROVIDED

Penn State’s annual IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon, commonly referred to as THON, broke its fundraising record this year by raising a total of $13.7 million in time for the student-run charity’s 50th anniversary. 

The iconic fundraiser, founded in 1973, is the largest student-run philanthropy in the world and since its founding, THON has raised over $200 million for Hershey-based nonprofit Four Diamonds. 

Through THON, Penn State students raise money during a year-long effort that culminates in a 46-hour, no-sitting, no-sleeping dance marathon. It is one of three programs that Four Diamonds relies on to support children and their families in the fight against childhood cancer through care, support and research. 

In the last decade, Four Diamonds has grown exponentially by expanding its administration, updating how it communicates with students, finding ways to keep students invested in giving after they graduate and more. 

That growth has resulted in the nonprofit bringing in 75% of its total fundraised money in the past 12 years—something that can be partially attributed to the leadership of Suzanne Graney, Four Diamond’s executive director since 2010. 

Graney joined Four Diamonds with an established background in communications and marketing from a previous role as director of development and marketing at Harrisburg-based WITF. However, it was Graney’s experience as a volunteer in a youth leadership program that drew her to a position at Four Diamonds. 

As a volunteer, Graney worked with young people to help them recognize and grasp their full potential, something that she does today with the student leader of THON. 

“To get to see that spark of learning and growth through their time with Four Diamonds—whether it is through THON, Mini-THON or other opportunities, it’s rewarding to see how they are awakened to their skills,” said Graney. 

Through THON, students learn best practices in fundraising, social media and digital fundraising along with lessons in leadership and teamwork—fostering future philanthropists. 

Suzanne Graney. PHOTO/PROVIDED

Leading Four Diamonds 

Leading an organization like Four Diamonds takes what Graney calls a combination of heart and smart. 

“You can have a lot of heart and care and it is important to be rooted in the mission to truly care about the individuals who are making this work happen,” she said. “On the flip side, you have to approach it from a place of smart business principles. You have to have return on investment, and you have to manage the financial pieces of this well.” 

Under Graney’s leadership, Four Diamonds has grown from three to 17 full-time staff members. Those staff changes have included the addition of a team dedicated to Mini-THON, a similar year-long fundraising effort modeled after THON but focused on K-12 students. 

Another area of growth for the nonprofit has been how it communicates with the public, according to Graney. Four Diamonds has grown its social media presence, recognizing that it needs to meet students and donors at their preferred websites. 

“We knew that Penn State University students were heavily on Twitter. We had to grow on Twitter as a response,” said Graney. “We know that our donors were on Facebook. So, we needed our stories on Facebook.” 

In the spirit of meeting its community where it is, Four Diamonds announced a new program to stand beside THON and Mini-THON in July, called Play For The Kids. 

Through Play For The Kids, Four Diamonds supporters can raise money by hosting a variety of events such as food eating contests or fitness challenges, during Childhood Cancer Awareness Month in September. 

Graney said she sees the new program as a way to keep students and families invested in the THON and Mini-Thon mindset even after graduating college or high school. 

“It is about bringing people together. Being part of a larger movement all focused on funding studies for childhood cancer,” she said. “It is an expansion of what we are doing and an opportunity for anyone at any age to be part of the solution.” 

Penn State students take a selfie with the Nittany Lion at THON 2022. PHOTO/PROVIDED

Looking back and forward 

Along with breaking THON’s record annual donations, 2022 THON acted as a celebration of 50 years of THON. 

It was also Four Diamonds’ first year without its co-founder, Charles Millard, who died in late 2021 at the age of 93. 

Millard co-founded Four Diamonds with his wife, Irma, after the loss of their son Christopher to cancer in 1972. Four Diamonds became the beneficiary of Penn State’s THON in 1977 after Millard made a connection with a student involved in the organization. 

During his time with Four Diamonds, a common phrase of Millard’s was: “Maybe Einstein was right and we are all energy and that energy never dies, it just takes another form.” 

The energy of THON’s hours long dance party is hard to describe, according to Graney, who said she kept thinking of that quote during the weekend. 

“It’s filled with hope, positivity and goodwill,” she said. “You feel that the minute you enter that building and you feel it the entire time.” 

The anniversary was also an opportunity to look forward for Four Diamonds.  

Last November Penn State Health named Dr. Yatin Vyas as chair of its Department of Pediatrics, Children’s Miracle Network and Four Diamonds Endowed Chair and pediatrician-in-chief at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center and Penn State College of Medicine. 

In this new role, one of Vyas’ first steps will be to put together a new strategic plan for pediatric oncology and hematology. Graney said that this new strategic plan is an opportunity for the hospital and its researchers to tell Four Diamonds what it needs from them. 

“Once we know what that direction is, we will get to work and do everything we can to provide them with what they need to care for kids as best they can in the most modern, up to date and leading edge ways possible,” she said. 


Lancaster restaurant partners with Girl Scouts for the Extraordinary Give

Rachels Cafe and Creperie in Lancaster is making a special Girl Scouts crepe for the Extraordinary Give on Nov. 20. PHOTO PROVIDED

This Friday, Lancaster-based Rachel’s Cafe and Creperie will feature two temporary menu items to help raise money for the Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania.

On the same day as the Lancaster County Community Foundation hosts its annual Extraordinary Give, the local creperie will be donating 10% of its proceeds for the day to the Harrisburg-based Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania (GSHPA).

To sweeten the deal, the restaurant will be selling two limited menu items on Friday- a Nutella Peppermint Hot Chocolate garnished with Girl Scout peppermint bark and a dessert crepe featuring the nonprofit’s chocolate covered pretzels.

Rachel Adams, the creperie’s owner and a former Girl Scout herself, began a working relationship with the midstate branch of the international organization after selling crepes using Girl Scout Cookies in her crepe specials to support her daughter’s Girl Scout Troop.

“I wanted to help her troop out and make some amazing crepes so I ordered lots of cookies and came up with Crepe specials featuring Girl Scout Cookies,” Adams said. “We usually paired that with a fundraiser each year for a local troop. Most recently, they got in touch with me to start partnering with them for the Extra Give.”

This is the second year that the local business owner has partnered with the nonprofit to help it raise funds for the Extraordinary Give, something that has helped the local branch connect with the Lancaster community, which has a large number of girl and adult Girl Scout members, according to Janet Donovan, president and CEO of GSHPA.

“It’s important for us to be connected to the Lancaster community and to participate in the Extra Give as part of the community,” she said. “It’s a dual pronged piece for us to show how Girl Scouts supports the community and it’s also about creating a fundraising opportunity for us.”

Donovan added that Adams is a good fit for such a partnership, noting that the Girl Scout Cookie program teaches entrepreneurial skills like financial literacy and marketing.

“If Rachel was a Girl Scout, that means that she participated in the Girl Scout Cookie program and now here she is her own entrepreneur,” Donovan said. “What a great model for our girls and of course her support means everything to us.”

The Extraordinary Give is a day-long event where anyone can donate money to one of 500 organizations across Lancaster County. The nonprofit organizations win awards depending on the amount of donations they receive.

Adams recommends that other businesses work with nonprofits they support during the give, saying that it’s a “win-win for everyone.”

“We all need to help each other, especially now and what better way than to help raise awareness for local nonprofits and get them the extra attention they deserve?” she said.

Lancaster Co. Benefit Auction for The Clinic for Special Children

Handmade quilts, handcrafted furniture, wooden crafts, sporting goods, handmade toys and garden plants will be available for buyers at our auction. A variety of food choices will be featured including chicken barbecue, freshly made pies, donuts, whoopie pies, ice cream and more!