St. Jude Children’s Hospital has a mission to find cures for children with cancer and on Jan. 30 Belmont University students have the opportunity to be a part of this initiative by participating in the Up ‘til Dawn program.
“St. Jude Up ‘til Dawn was created for college students to ‘stay up for good’ in the fight against childhood cancer and other life-threatening illnesses,” said program coordinator Chase Simpson.
Up ‘til Dawn is a student-led, student-run philanthropic program where participants raise funds through donations and awareness for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. It engages its participants in a fundraising challenge that culminates in an all-night event to celebrate their success.
“When Danny Thomas first opened St. Jude, his vision was to create a place where no child dies in the dawn of life. Up ‘til Dawn provides an outlet for students to give back in a fun and exciting way,” said Simpson.
St. Jude is the only pediatric cancer research center where families do not pay for treatment their insurance cannot cover. No child is ever denied treatment because of a family’s inability to pay.
Because all of the family’s medical expenses are covered, the daily operating cost for St. Jude is $2 million. That money is primarily covered by public contributions through fundraisers like Up ‘til Dawn.
The program is set up with the primary goal of raising money for St. Jude but Up ‘til Dawn is an event that also celebrates the effort participants put forth in raising money and awareness.
“Everyone has been affected one way or another by cancer. St. Jude Up ‘til Dawn provides college students with a fun night of activities and challenges all while staying up for good,” said Simpson.
Once a participant is signed up, he or she has until the day of the event to raise at least $100 to be able to attend Up ‘til Dawn.
“You have to raise $100 to be eligible, which might seem like a large amount of money, but by sending emails to family and friends, you can easily raise that amount by getting just 10 donations of $10,” said Belmont junior and marketing and public relations director Chelsea Wales.
Once participants raise their money, they will receive notice that they will be a part of the celebration on Jan. 30.
“The event is going to be epic. It will be a night full of fun games, music, food and community,” said Belmont senior and events and logistics director Giovanna Cervantes.
At the conclusion of the event, participants will be given a pancake breakfast and a St. Jude family will be presented with check of how much money was raised by the participants.
“We have set a goal to raise $25,000, and all of that money is going to go directly to the research and costs necessary to save the lives of children all over the world,” said Wales.
Belmont participants have currently over $19,000 with only two weeks left until the celebration.
The executive council for Up ‘til Dawn wants to continue to spread the message to students not only about how easy it is to raise the money, but also the impact this event can have on those in need and the university. “This is a chance for every single student at Belmont to be a part of something that will truly change someone’s life,” said Cervantes.
Since this is the first time Belmont has hosted Up ‘til Dawn, the executive council has experienced some challenges in getting the word out to students about this opportunity.
“The biggest struggle for the first year executive council is recruiting participants and spreading the word about an event that is both fun and rewarding for everyone involved,” said Belmont junior and sponsorship chair Jayton Gray.
Up ‘til Dawn is intended to impact an entire campus community but it also has an impact on the students who serve on the executive board and plan the event.
“I have a passion for philanthropic efforts, and I saw a great opportunity to give back to St. Jude,” said Wales. “It made sense to be able to hone my marketing skills while working with an organization bigger than myself. The opportunity has already taught me so much.”
Although this is the first executive board to put together Up ‘til Dawn on Belmont’s campus, they hope to have this event again and allow more students the opportunity to serve on the board and raise money each year.
“It was an amazing opportunity to bring something wonderful to this school,” said Cervantes. “I find it thrilling to be a part of the first team to organize this event. It can be stressful, but I know when I visit in five years it will have grown, and I will be proud to say I helped start it.”
Simpson said the only way St. Jude can continue to provide this opportunity for families in need is through programs like Up ‘til Dawn. Through donations, St. Jude is able to provide the best treatment and care without worrying where the money is going to come from.
“We are a place where no family has to pay anything and no family will ever receive a bill from St. Jude. We provide treatment, lodging, travel and food at no cost of the family,” Simpson said.
Students can get involved by registering for the event on the St. Jude Up ‘til Dawn website and searching for Belmont University.
For more information about St. Jude Children’s Hospital or Up ‘til Dawn at Belmont, students can visit the St. Jude Up ‘til Dawn Belmont Facebook page.
“I am staying Up ’til Dawn because I believe that no child should have to endure going through cancer. I believe that if we all work together, we can and will find a cure,” said Belmont sophomore and opening ceremony coordinator Riley Ahlstrand.
This article was written by Tatum Tummins.