ISU hosts Up ‘Til Dawn event
Published: Monday, November 12, 2012
Updated: Monday, November 12, 2012 11:11
As tables filled and students poured into the hallway outside of Dede I in the Hulman Memorial Student Union, senior recreation management major Janessa Wolf frantically walked back and forth between groups of students addressing piles of letters and various registration tables around the room.
During the rush of the three-hour Up ‘Til Dawn event last Wednesday, Wolf needed only one encouraging phrase to keep her moving: “Thank you.”
Indiana State and universities around the country every year host Up ‘Til Dawn, a fundraising event sponsored by St. Jude’s Research Hospital. ISU students were encouraged to bring contact information for around 20 people and fill out letters asking friends and family alike for donations to the non-profit hospital.
As executive director of ISU’s annual fundraiser, Wolf had the opportunity to visit St. Jude’s in Memphis, Tenn., where she found inspiration to continue organizing the event. This year’s event marked the third year she has been in charge.
“I actually got a hug from one of the patients, who whispered in my ear ‘Thank you.’ It was amazing,” she said of her trip to the hospital two summers ago.
Wolf said that scenes like this are common at St. Jude’s; the treatments children receive from the hospital have left many families feeling thankful. Because of fundraisers like Up ‘Til Dawn, St. Jude’s is able to conduct cancer research and treat children with life threatening illnesses at no expense to the family, said Susie Tatem, senior event marketing representative for St. Jude’s fundraising branch in Indianapolis.
“It is a hospital that has no billing department, so it’s free for every child who’s admitted. They pay for all travel, lodging, school, counseling — anything a family could possibly need,” Tatem said. “They even have grocery certificates for families who are there for long periods of time.”
Jeremy English of Bloomington, Ind., the event speaker, confirmed this fact as he addressed participants filling out letters. He told the story of his daughter, Taylor, who was diagnosed with a rare form of brain cancer at just two years of age. When he had nowhere else to go, English turned to St. Jude’s to help his daughter.
“Basically, I still racked up roughly $5 million in bills from other places, but I never received a bill from St. Jude,” English told the audience. “Nobody said ‘Hey, Jeremy, I know you’re having a bad day but we really need that.’”
During the six years that ISU has hosted the Up ‘Til Dawn fundraiser, Tatem estimated between $90,000-100,000 have been donated in response to student letters. Contributions of $30 or less make up 70 percent of all donations, she said, meaning individuals essentially fund St. Jude’s.
“I love to see students caring, and I know we’re planting a seed that students will carry with them throughout their lives,” Tatem said.
Students enjoyed refreshments and karaoke while they filled out stacks of letters and folded them into envelopes, knowing their busy work will help raise crucial funds for cancer research and children in need of treatment.
“It feels good. It feels like we’re helping,” freshman athletic training major Sean Clancy said behind a pile of papers. “We’re all busy, we’re all doing our own stuff, but we do what we can.”
The scenes from this year’s Up ‘Til Dawn fundraiser were busy, with students’ eyes glued to their letters as their hands hurriedly scribbled, while volunteers like Wolf rushed around the room, making sure questions were answered and the event remained organized. Though, as Wolf stated, all of the bustling is worth it if it leaves just one child whispering “Thank you.”