"No child should die in the dawn of life."
I'm coming up on my final year of participating in Illinois State University's "Up 'Til Dawn" event. If you haven't heard of this amazing event, then let me tell you! Every year, schools across the nation come together for a night to stay up until the dawn of the morning. The entire night is in honor of St. Jude Children's Hospital.
Leading up to the main event, usually held in November, college students fundraise like crazy for St. Jude. Between food fundraisers, individual donors, and other sponsors, Illinois State University alone usually raises close to $200,000! Before the main event, students from every part of campus make a team of six people. Each team gets to raise at least $600 to participate in the night's event.
The entire year is spent planning for "Up 'Til Dawn" by the executive board, made up of passionate college students. They raise awareness, fundraise, plan the night, and so much more so it comes out perfect every year. At ISU, the location changes every year and participants don't know where it'll be held until the night of when they receive a text with all the information. One of my favorite parts of the night is getting to hear guest speakers that are directly associated with St. Jude. Through the night different activities are planned, St. Jude facts are shared, and a strong sense of community is built by staying up with friends and classmates fundraising for the same goal.
Why is this event so special and near and dear to my heart? Because this night changes lives. St. Jude is more than just a children's hospital. They are a true beacon of hope for families. St. Jude Children's Hospital is unlike any other!
It costs over $2,200,000 a day to open the doors of St. Jude. When a family is at St. Jude, they will never receive a bill. Never. All expenses are paid when a family is there, this includes travel expenses to and from, housing, all treatments, and anything else that the families would need while staying. Once the family leaves, however, their expenses are still paid for every follow-up visits, regardless of how old the child gets. They don't charge a single dollar because they don't want the family to have to worry about anything but helping their child.
They have assisted greatly in improving the survival rate of childhood cancer from 20% when they opened in 1962 to 80% today! They are the world leader in cancer research and yet they share all that gained knowledge for free to other institutions and scientists. The hospital relies heavily on donors since they make up over 75% of their operating costs. So when I say ISU makes a difference for St. Jude I mean it.
As a member of Epsilon Sigma Alpha (ESA), the service and leadership sorority on campus, we participate in and help with "Up 'Til Dawn" every year. Being that St. Jude is one of our philanthropies, each girl individually sets the goal of raising more than $200 each. However, many girls go way above and beyond because of how passionate they are! As of right now, ESA has raised over $24,000 for this year's event. We are lucky enough to have the opportunity to visit and tour St. Jude Children's Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee every year. Epsilon Sigma Alpha has a whole floor dedicated to them at the hospital for all that we help them with. We learn so many amazing details of the hospital and how wonderful they truly are. If you have extra time I HIGHLY recommend learning some history about the founder, Danny Thomas, watching patient videos, and learning all that St. Jude does for a family going through treatment for cancer or other diseases.
I am saddened that this will be my fourth and final year participating in this inspiring event. By staying "Up 'Til Dawn," we recognize the countless sleepless nights the parents and children have to endure while going through treatment. Every dollar does count towards the fight of childhood cancer. Donating $10 can help provide a new toy for the hospital play areas, $30 can help provide a family with meals for a day, $100 can help supply a pair of crutches, $250 can help provide one red blood cell transfusion. Whether it's a $1, $10, or $100, it can make all the difference for a child and family. To donate to my fundraising page, click here!
If you go to Illinois State University, register for "Up 'Til Dawn" here!