Penn State senior Devon Geary arrived at the Bryce Jordan Center at 5:30 a.m. Friday morning to get the place ready for Thon 2017.
By 5:30 p.m., the floor would already be flushed with hundreds of dancers, many of them coping a squat before timing and tradition would perish the very thought.
Geary, an OPP lieutenant liaison, was strapped to a headset, bracing for the clock to strike 6 p.m. and 46 hours of the near constant foot traffic during the Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon.
“It’s what we’ve been anticipating all year, so when we get here we’re just so excited to do it,” Geary said.
Senior Alex Hannaway was one of the eight dancers with Atlas, a special-interest organization specifically devoted to raising money for the Four Diamonds fund, which helps benefit children and families affected by pediatric cancer.
Hannaway had a half-empty bottle of water in hand and a fuzzy pink top hat on her head. Her strategy for making it through the weekend involved frequent movement and copious amounts of stretching.
She also planned on drawing inspiration from each of the four Thon families Atlas represents.
“I definitely think our families are going to help me get through this weekend,” Hannaway said.
Failing that, there’s always the Dancer Relations Committee. Jenny Apple, a Penn State senior, is one of the students in charge of supporting each dancer as the hours start to take their toll.
If anybody can empathize, it’s Apple. No stranger to the Thon dance floor, she knows how crucial a well-timed snack or stretch can be.
“Our job is to support the dancers, emotionally, physically…Just anything that they might need throughout the weekend,” Apple said.
By 6 p.m. there was no turning back. The dancers rose to their feet and Thon 2017 was officially underway.