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A Look Back At the First Year of Success with Honor

By Kenny Cara, (

While many tourists flock to the Nittany Lion Shrine to take pictures, if you want to truly understand Penn Staters you have to travel south east from the Shrine and keep your eyes open for a simple rock on the side of a walkway. On that rock is a plaque that reads:

The Penn State Honor Code
A good name is earned by fair play, square dealing and good sportsmanship in the classroom, on the athletic field and in all other college relations. We earnestly desire that this spirit may become a tradition at Penn State
The Skull and Bones Honor Society Founded 1912

That rock is the voice of Penn Staters past, present and future.

Hanging out at the Luke’s Wings tailgate at the Penn State – Navy game

After one year Success with Honor has united many of those voices. Currently those voices belong to 1,000 people and 50+ different charities. "I see a future where the Penn State family is renowned as the most philanthropic alumni, student and fan base in the world,“ Keith Verner, a friend of Success With Honor, said. Scott Shirley of Uplifting Athletes offered the following advice "take care of the little things and the big things will take care of themselves."

Greg Walker of Success with Honor with Blair Thomas volunteering at the Eileen Morgan Golf Outing

Last year Success with Honor set out to raise their voices and draw attention to the good works being done by Penn Staters across the world at a time when many had turned their backs on the University.

Spending an evening with friends at the Uplifting Athletes Grid Iron Gala

One day last year Heather Vedell was pumping gas in her hometown in Virginia. Sitting inside the car were Vedell’s pride and her joy, her two children. On the outside of her car Vedell showed off her pride and joy in her alma mater, Penn State. Someone else at the gas station noticed Vedell’s Penn State pride. The man walked up to Vedell and asked her how she could subject her children to “that culture.” “I’ve been speechless very few times in my life,” Vendell said. But she regained her composure, “I told him you’re lucky my children are in the car right now.” So Vedell eventually
chose to raise her voice and she volunteered to help Success with Honor. “I really felt like I needed to get involved in something that reflected positively on (the Penn State) community… I Felt like I needed to put my best foot forward and be an ambassador… I couldn’t let the scandal define what Penn State is and who alumni are,” Vedell said.

Collecting toys for the Hope for Cope Toy Drive for the Penn State Hershey Medical Center

Vedell is now the program director for Success with Honor. She vets and provides information on charities for the Success with Honor Board of Directors. But she goes way beyond her title. When Vedell found out about fellow Penn Stater Marybeth Levine’s Detroit Diaper Bank she was inspired to do her own diaper drive in her hometown to benefit the people in Detroit. “I didn’t realize there’s no government programs to provide diapers for adults or children. Unemployment in Detroit is over 50 percent and children have no diapers,” Vedell said. As a parent this hit home for Vedell and she got involved.

Helping out at the Penn State Lift for Life that raised $110K against kidney cancer

Vedell grew-up in Pennsylvania, went to Penn State, moved to Texas and is now living in Virginia with her husband and children. “It still amazes me how many Penn Staters there are across the country,” Vedell said. There’s strength in numbers, “I believe in Greg Walker’s (SWH Executive Vice President) Success with Honor math that says if we can get even a small percentage of our 500,000 alumni in the game, we can make a huge impact,” Bob Taylor, Success with Honor President and founder, said. Success with Honor was started by Penn Staters but everyone is welcome to help out. If you are interested in helping the group achieve more success in 2013 contact a team member and see how you can get involved. If you ever find yourself in Happy Valley enjoy some ice cream, stop and see the Lion, but don’t forget to go look for that rock that many Penn Staters build their future on.

Diapers collected for the Detroit Diaper bank.

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Mailing address: Success With Honor, P.O. Box 1319, Camp Hill, PA 17001

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Success with Honor is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization