Belmont Up ‘Til Dawn campers filled the Maddox Grand Atrium to celebrate fundraising a total of $135,060.64 for St. Jude’s Research Children’s Hospital.
Students stayed up from 9 p.m. Friday night to 2 a.m. Saturday morning in celebration of their year-long efforts in fundraising for St. Jude.
“The event just feels like playing, it feels like we can be kids again,” said Sonia Mathews, the executive director of Belmont’s Up ‘Til Dawn.
To keep morale high for event-goers, the night is filled with all types of fun activities and games. Participants are able to take part in group games such as dodgeball and wheelbarrow races, a ball pit, ride a virtual reality roller coaster, dance at a silent disco, make bracelets at a craft-making station and so much more.
“I think it is really special we’re doing all the things that these kids at St. Jude wish they could do,” said Mathews. “We all loved our childhood so much and most of us were really blessed to be healthy in our childhood and it is really cool we can celebrate that and give kids a chance to also have that.”
Throughout the night, all Belmont students are able to celebrate their success alongside their roommates, friends, other student organizations, and create new friendships with students they may not know, creating the community feeling behind Up ‘Til Dawn.
“My favorite part is seeing everyone come together and rally for one thing. There are so many different kinds of students and all different walks of life at this event,” said Anne McCall Stansberry, a Belmont senior at Up ‘Til Dawn. “It is just really amazing that this is an event that can bring us all together.”
The executive team behind Up ‘Til Dawn has been organizing its board and creating the camping theme for this event since the end of the last Up ‘Til Dawn event last year, said Mathews. However, it is when students are back on campus in the fall that planning and spreading awareness is kicked into overdrive.
“It has been a really long year it feels like. We started fundraising in September and trying to get the name out on campus,” said Molly Trunnell, a Sophomore who is a member of the recruitment and cultivation team for Up Til Dawn.
Because of all the fundraising efforts made by both students and board members, all were able to scream and shout with excitement as the final amount of $135,060.64 was revealed at the end of the night.
“It is almost not even fathomable,” said Trunnell. “From a participant’s point of view, they are going to see that number and go home and say ‘wow that’s a great number’. But being on the executive board and getting to go to St. Jude hospital last April and seeing where the money is actually going makes this that much more of an impact.”
Whether it is students’ first year participating in the Up ‘Til Dawn event or their fourth and final year, all seem to agree that the event is a great cause to fundraise for.
Sophomore Amy Bowers echoed that sentiment, saying she would like to see even more students join in the future.
“I would definitely tell them to participate,” said Bowers. “Not only because it is giving back to St. Jude but also because it is a great time meeting more people who are passionate about giving back to people with cancer and a great way to be a part of the community.”
Article and photos by Madison Bowen.