Katie Doolittle – Staff Writer
The annual Mr. Gustavus pageant is ready to take place on Friday, March 10 at 6:00 p.m. in the Evelyn Young Dining Center.
The Mr. Gustavus pageant is a fundraiser hosted by the Theta Xi Gamma sorority. This year, they are raising awareness and donations for their philanthropy organization, the Pinky Swear Foundation. “The Pinky Swear Foundation supports children battling cancer and their families in a number of ways. Some of these ways include helping with rent/mortgage payments, paying for gas and groceries, car insurance, and other everyday expenses,” Senior Molly Smerillo said.
The Pinky Swear foundation began in 2003 when 9-year-old Mitch Chepokas, who was a cancer patient, found that other families in a similar situation could not afford Christmas gifts. Mitch went to his bank, deposited money, and donated to a family in need.
Before his passing, Mitch made a pinky swear with his father to continue to help children with cancer and their loved ones.
The organization is dedicated to saying ‘yes’ to every family in need with a dedication to compassion, collaboration, and celebration. Some of its many partners include Hy-Vee, Cargill, Mall of America, General Mills, Barnes & Noble, and iHeartMEDIA.
The Thetas officially adopted the Pinky Swear Foundation in 2007 and have held various annual events to raise donations, some of which include the Pinky Swear Silent Auction, the Benefit Dinner, volunteering at the Pinky Swear Kids Triathlon, and hosting the Mr. Gustavus pageant.
“The purpose of the Mr. Gustavus event is to raise money for our philanthropy, the Pinky Swear Foundation, in a fun and casual way! It is the biggest event the Thetas do for the campus community so we are all really excited,” Senior Emily Meyer said.
The process of deciding who will be Mr. Gustavus consists of peer nominations. The top five people with the most nominations are then selected to participate in the pageant. The week leading up to and also during the event, attendees can donate $2 to vote for their favored candidate, either via Venmo or cash. The person who successfully raises the most donations wins the title of Mr. Gustavus.
The 2023 candidates are Seniors Tait Erickson, Eric Johnson, Peyton Churchwood, Teddy Johnson, and Zach Gbor. “The guys have been working hard to put on the best possible show for everyone, so hopefully votes will make those results pay off,” Sophomore Emma Kennedy said.
“This year our candidates are super dedicated to putting on an outstanding performance to raise as much money as possible, so it should be a really wonderful event,” Smerillo said.
The event will also include raffle prizes, Insomnia Cookies, popcorn, commentary from guest judges, and LineUs comedy improv troupe.
Over 15 years of work towards the Pinky Swear Foundation is a testament to their mission as sisters of the Theta Xi Gamma sorority.
As members of the Theta Xi Gamma sorority, these girls are dedicated to creating and serving the greater community. According to their personal mission statement, Thetas commit themselves to compassionate action. “We will strive to better our community, our world, and ourselves by devoting time to serve others in need. We will strive to act as strong, positive role models in the community through our actions, words, and involvement,” they said.
Smerillo, Meyer, and Kennedy began working on this event at the beginning of February and are looking forward to the outcome of this year’s Mr. Gustavus. “I am really looking forward to getting the opportunity to MC the event this year. Emma, Emily, and I have been working really hard to plan this event, so I am just excited for all of our hard work to pay off and to help kiddos battling cancer,” Smerillo said.
“I have really enjoyed working with Emily and Molly over the past few weeks in order to make this event happen. I was a freshman watching the event last year and had a lot of fun, so it’s really cool to be putting on the show this year,” Kennedy said.
This year’s Mr. Gustavus is especially meaningful for the seniors as this will be the second time the event will take place for them since COVID-19 restrictions. “I am looking forward to holding our second Mr. Gustavus event for students,” Smerillo said.
“We are excited that we could do it again,” Meyer said.