When Mary Gazikas stepped outside Thursday morning, she slipped on a patch of ice and landed on broken glass. Hands covered in blood, Gazikas prayed that this was not an indication of how the rest of her day would go. After all, Thursday was the day before THON, and as Mary is a member of Morale, she had work to do. Every committee scrambles to tie up loose ends on the eve of THON, but THON dancers depend on Moralers especially, causing added pressure. So here’s a look at THON Eve from the eyes of a Moraler:
4:00 p.m.: Mary’s classes let out for the day and she got to work. She and a few other committee members piled in her car and made their way over to Wal-Mart to pick up essentials for their dancers. The essentials are anything that will possibly cheer a dancer up or distract them. Their favorite snacks and drinks are a must, and apparently, brain teasers and coloring books are also a huge help. According to Mary, brain teasers are perfect for Friday night, but as the weekend continues and the dancers get more tired, coloring books are all they can handle.
Mary ended up spending a pretty penny at Wal-Mart but insisted she didn’t mind. “Once you know your dancer and get so inspired by them, you want to do whatever you can to help them,” she said.
6:00 p.m.: Mary snuck into Snyder Hall in East when she knew her dancer would be gone in order to decorate her door. Mary’s dancer, who is dancing for Student Pennsylvania State Education Association, happens to be a huge Lizzie McGuire fan, so the poster Mary taped to her door reading, “This is what dreams are made of,” was fairly appropriate. As an extra measure, all decorations were purple and blue, Mary’s dancer’s favorite colors.
Because this is her second year Moraling in THON, Mary knows a thing or two about the importance of decorations. “I know tomorrow morning when I see her locker all together and see the piles for my shifts, it’ll feel so real,” she said.
Mary arranged Reese’s cups in the shape of four diamonds on the floor next to a poem she wrote entitled, “‘Twas the Night Before THON.” Everything outside her dancer’s dorm room looked great and we tiptoed away before getting caught.
8:00 p.m.: Next on Mary’s list of tasks was setting up her “piles.” She explained that each Morale committee will do about five shifts, with each shift ranging from 2-6 hours. She assembled five piles, one for each shift. The piles include things that she’ll need for herself (believe it or not Moralers have to take care of themselves THON weekend as well as their dancers), and things she’ll need to inspire her dancer. Mary assembled cards with inspirational quotes and jokes on them. The jokes are integral to the first half of THON, while inspirational quotes will come in handy when the weekend wears on and dancers become more emotional.
Distraction is Mary’s favorite thing about being a Moraler. “I’m so drawn to Morale because it’s about not only distracting the dancers but the kids as well. God knows they have enough going on in their lives,” Mary explained. “Every once and a while dancers have a rough moment but my favorite thing is seeing them change their mood and seeing that they get through.”
10:00 p.m.: Mary got to work on a cape for her dancer, because in her eyes THONners are heroes. “Anybody who is in THON has worked non-stop through the year for THON and for the kids, and I love being able to make this weekend a thank you to them,” she said.
I noted that this must be an exceptionally stressful week for Moralers, and Mary admitted this was the case. Moralers meet their dancers only a week before THON. In seven days they need to learn the ins and outs of their dancer, what makes them tick, and what will encourage them throughout the weekend. While Mary worked on the cape she explained that all of the work is worth it.
At this point, it’s nearing midnight and Mary is still hard at work, but I am much less dedicated. While Mary works, I am headed to bed. Do Moralers ever sleep?