THON award keeps Penn State student’s memory alive

May 02, 2016

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — On Sept. 27, 2015, Penn State sophomore and IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon volunteer Tally Sepot died in a car accident returning from a THON canning trip. With a recent gift from her parents and close family friends, Tally’s memory will be kept alive at Penn State for years to come.

Tally’s parents, Joseph and Claudia Sepot, have made a gift to help establish the Tally Sepot Memorial Award. This award will be given each year to a student who demonstrates outstanding service to Penn State and THON. The effort is further supported by the generosity of the Lombra family, friends and Connecticut neighbors of the Sepots. Contributing to the fund are Ray Lombra, professor of economics, senior adviser to the dean of the College of the Liberal Arts, and an alumnus of the college; his wife, Bobbi; the Lombras’ daughter, Smeal College of Business alumna Sherri Lombra; and her husband, Dan Zebrowski.

Recognizing Tally’s enthusiasm for volunteer work and her passion for Penn State, the Sepots and the Lombras expressed their hope that the memorial award will be a celebration of Tally’s spirit within a community that she thought of as a second home.

“As parents, we send our children off to college hoping they made the right choice — hoping they’ve chosen a place where they’ll be academically challenged and socially accepted for who they are,” said Joe Sepot. “From the first time her mother took Tally to visit Penn State and she heard ‘We Are!,’ I think right there Tally found the place that could match her spirit and enthusiasm. She truly found a second home at Penn State.”

Sherri Lombra, who knew Tally as a friend and trusted caretaker of her children, recalled Tally’s dedication to service with great admiration. “She had such a fundamental belief in selflessly doing well for others. She loved THON and all that it stood for and proudly aligned herself with THON from her early days on campus. That’s who she was.” Reflecting further, Sherri said, “Tally embodied everything to me that was amazingly wonderful about the time I spent at Penn State — it’s that feeling you want to carry with you long after you leave campus. She loved everything that Penn State was about.”

Outgoing 2016 THON Executive Director Katie Mailey expressed her belief that the Tally Sepot Memorial Award will offer a special way to preserve Tally’s dedication to helping others. “This award will share Tally's lasting impact on the THON community for years to come. It will serve as a reminder for students of what it means to be a passionate THON volunteer.”

In February, THON raised more than $9.7 million to support pediatric cancer research and treatment, the kind of bold accomplishment Sherri Lombra recalled Tally dedicating herself toward. “It’s so important to encourage, reward, and recognize a passion for philanthropy and volunteerism in our younger generation,” she said. “This award can help to do that and it is a wonderful way to honor Tally and keep her memory alive.”

“In her short life, Tally touched so many people with her infectious smile, humor, caring nature, and irresistible personality,” her father said. “After her passing, someone coined the phrase #LiveLikeTally — a call to smile a little more, regret a little less, and be your own person. We hope this award will help inspire others to live in this way.”

For more information on the Tally Sepot Memorial Award, contact Director of Development for University Programs Andrea Pagano-Reyes at

  • Tally Sepot

    With a recent gift from her parents and close family friends, Tally Sepot’s memory will be kept alive at Penn State for years to come.

    IMAGE: Provided by the Sepot Family

(Media Contacts)

Andrea Pagano-Reyes, Director of Development for University Programs

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Last Updated May 02, 2016