Up ’til Dawn is a campaign to raise money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, a non-profit hospital that treats children and teenagers with life-threatening cancers and tumors. Patients are given free top-of-the-line treatment while participating in studies that help researchers get closer to one day finding the cure for cancer. On March 9-10, the Up ’til Dawn team hosted their finale event to celebrate their second year of fundraising.
The fundraising event was run differently than it was last year. The main event for the philanthropy used to focused on students, faculty and staff sending out letters asking for friends and family to consider donating. This year, instead of making the letter sending the main event, the 12 member E-board decided to form fundraising teams at the beginning of the year, and give all participants a longer time to raise funds. The finale event served as a celebration of all the hard work of the participants and gave those who attended a taste of the life of a child at St. Jude Children’sResearchHospital. The event was held during hours participants would usually be sleeping because of how hard it is for cancer patients to sleep through the night. The pain they are in and the complications from their treatment often keep them awake.
The event itself ran from 12:00 a.m. to 6:00 a.m., and featured three event challenges as well as several parties throughout the night. A silly string party kicked off the festivities, inspired by the silly string parties that greet celebrities and special guests who visit the children of St. Jude Children’sResearchHospitalat the Target House to raise their spirits.
The party was followed by the first event challenge of the night, a syringe painting competition. An estimated 100 students, faculty and staff participated in the competition to see who could create the best painting that captured the meaning of St. Jude Children’sResearchHospitaland their mission to serve children using syringes instead of paint brushes to work with. This is an activity that the children at the hospital often do to prepare for their chemotherapy treatments by exposing them to the syringes. This is meant to help the younger children become less afraid of the needles that are used in their treatment, and also give them a way to express their feelings about their treatment through art.
The second event challenge of the night was a red wagon relay race. At St. Jude’s, wagons are used instead of wheelchairs to transport patients. This is done to help the children feel less like they are in a hospital and to give them a more positive experience during their treatment. Participants in the event raced an obstacle course set up between Crawford and the Student Activities Center in red wagons in honor of the children who ride in a similar wagon on the way to another round of chemotherapy. A glow party, another program that is promoted at St. Jude’s, was held following the wagon races. The glow parties are advertised as “blackout cancer” parties. The purpose is to raise more awareness about cancer research and get closer to “blacking out” cancer completely.
The final event challenge was dubbed skit in a bag. Competitors form teams performed skits based on items placed in a bag. Each bag was inspired by different programs and activities that the hospital puts on for their patients. Some of the featured bags were a “doggy bag” based off of the therapy dogs that visit and play with the children at the hospital, a birthday bag highlighting how much birthdays are emphasized at St. Jude Children’sResearchHospitalas a celebration of life and a graduation bag. AtSt.Jude’s children are able to go to an on-site school to allow them to keep up with their education. Graduations are highly celebrated events.
After the final challenge, a shaving event was held at 4:45 a.m. This lead up to the finale event in which five volunteers competed to raise the most change, collecting donations outside the cafeteria. The competitors were Justin Yates, Mac Culkeen, Scott McEver, Matt Batista and Sean Vanguilder. The winner of the competition was Mac Culkeen, who raised $180 dollars and had his head shaved. This competition raised nearly $384.
Altogether, this year’s Up ’til Dawn event was a huge success and raised a lot of money. Over $16,000 dollars were raised by over 100 participants on 34 teams representingSaintLeoUniversity. This put the university as the number one fundraising Up ’til Dawn team in the state ofFlorida, as well as 36 in the nation. Beverley Digiacobbe, the Executive Director of this year’s Up ’til Dawn E-board, was especially enthusiastic, stating that the money raised by the University could buy 160 crutches for pediatric patients to use during treatment, 320 frozen plasma transfusions for patients or 64 red blood cell transfusions for children undergoing cancer treatment.
While every person who donated to the cause has the satisfaction of helping to improve the lives of cancer patients, two individuals were rewarded for their fundraising efforts. The President’s Office sponsored two scholarships to be awarded to the students who raised the most money individually. Adam Kemp, who raised the most money individually at $1,305, won the first place $1000 scholarship. Amanda Mallory, who raised $825 on her own, won the second place $500 scholarship.
SaintLeoUniversitystudents had high praise for this year’s Up ’til Dawn event.
“Up ’til Dawn was a lot of sitting out, staying up and seeing how the patients are treated at St. Jude,” said Freshman Joshua Bartholomew.
“It was a lot of fun and it raised awareness for a great cause,” said Junior Ashley Flatt.
However, it wasn’t just the participants of the event who were sacrificing one night for the greater good. The Up ’til Dawn 12 member E-board was also in attendance, as well as many other volunteers who wanted to help make the event run as smoothly as possible.
“Sacrificing a few hours of sleep so that a child can wake up to a better tomorrow is why I’m doing this losing sleep is nothing compared to what they go through,”said Junior Genny Feiler
“Nothing is better than helping out children in need, especially when they may not have the money to help themselves,” said Senior Pete Valcarcel.