Graves Gym was filled with colorful balloons, a bounce house, a mechanical bull, a snow cone machine and students ready to raise money for childhood cancer research. Over 300 students attended Up ‘til Dawn on Saturday, Feb. 19 from 6:30 p.m. to midnight and addressed letters to family and friends asking for donations to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
St. Jude’s mission is to advance cures and preventions of pediatric catastrophic diseases through research and treatment. St. Jude doesn’t deny treatment to any child based on their family’s ability to pay. The hospital raises money to keep its mission going with programs like Up ‘til Dawn, according to St. Jude’s website.
Up ‘til Dawn is student-run and hosted by colleges and universities nationwide. The event uses letters as its main source of fundraising.
The letters students address and send bring awareness of what St. Jude is doing to help children in need of treatment.
“Too many people aren’t aware of the things that happen in our own backyard,” freshman Rebekah Turk said.
Turk and a friend came to the event to help get the word out about childhood cancer and they had 29 letters addressed within the first hour.
The event yielded 623 addressed letters total, triple the amount of letters Whitworth students addressed last year, said AnnAlise Nelson, sophomore and Up ‘til Dawn Entertainment Coordinator.
The students were also entertained in between the free food, games and addressing. They enjoyed performances from four Whitworth bands: Paper Tiger, Terrible Buttons, Brother Bear, and Jesse McDonald. The night came to a close with a performance by Whitworth’s improv team, Cool Whip.
A St. Jude patient from Claremont McKenna College also spoke. He is a 23-year-old student who was diagnosed with brain cancer when he was 20 and has been in remission for two years. His treatment cost over $1 million and was covered mostly by St. Jude.
Even if the students attending have never been in a situation like his they were still able to connect with him and understand his situation, Nelson said.
“The students who attended had a better understanding for what St. Jude is,” Nelson said.
Up ‘til Dawn has been an annual event at Whitworth for four years and will happen again next year. Whitworth’s Up ‘til Dawn Executive Board will be looking to hire people later this spring to help with planning and coordinating next year’s event.