Up ’til Dawn Executive Committee, responsible for planning
and executing the fundraiser
In only the second year of a St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital fundraiser, UTC students stayed Up ’til Dawn and raised $48,000, beating last year’s effort by more than $15,000.
A letter writing party last fall semester drew 240 students who were responsible for filling in pre-written letters to send to their family and friends, asking that they donate directly to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Recently on a Friday night, those students were welcomed back to Maclellan Gym with plenty of pizza, food, drinks, volleyball, dancing and inflatables, an “old fashioned lock-in,” as Juan Moreno called it. Moreno, Up ’til Dawn Director for UTC, led the Executive Board in this student-run endeavor. Shasta Westmoreland, Assistant Director of Admissions and Recruitment, served as faculty advisor to the Executive Board.
“The purpose for the gathering is to celebrate, but really it is done in honor of all the children who are constantly having to stay up because they are getting lab work done or because they are struggling with their symptoms due to cancer,” Moreno said. “Danny Thomas, the founder of St. Jude, believed that no child should die at the dawn of day, therefore students go from late at night until the early morning. Around 5 a.m., we announce to everyone the amount we raised. The Executive Board doesn’t even find out till the unveiling,” Moreno said.
Up ’til Dawn participants play Twister at Maclellan Gym.
When the students walked into the gym on the night of the celebration, they each received a bracelet representing an actual patient currently residing at St. Jude. The bracelet displayed the patient’s name, age, type of cancer, and hometown, so that throughout the night when the student felt tired or wanted to go home, all that was needed was a quick glance at the bracelet for inspiration.
“The bracelet reminds them that someone else is having to stay up, but with little to no choice,” Moreno said. “For more inspiration, throughout the night we have a dancing power hour where we all do the corny wedding and party dances we all know, on the hour we have videos showing patients at St. Jude and their story, and the biggest thing, we had new meals every 2 to 3 hours and plenty of raffle items.”
The Up ’til Dawn Executive Board invests a lot of time planning the event, Moreno said, but it is all worth it at the end.
“When we begin to flip those sheets of paper with individual digits, it is just an amazing feeling of joy and accomplishment,” Moreno said. “It makes all the long hours and the work worth it to know that we are playing a pivotal part in the lives of many children. I had a great childhood. Every child deserves to have one too.”