Some University of Memphis students will stay up all night Friday during a finale event to celebrate money raised during the university’s 19th annual Up ‘til Dawn program.
The nationwide program, which benefits St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, is a student-run philanthropic campaign to raise money for research and treatment of childhood cancer and other diseases. Teams of six students participate in various fundraising events throughout the school year. Since Up ‘til Dawn’s founding at the U of M in 1999, students have raised more than $2 million, according to a March 21 press release from ALSAC, St. Jude’s fundraising organization. Last year students raised $212,167 last year.
Breanna Pollet, 21, senior psychology major and event and logistics director for the U of M’s Up ‘til Dawn program, plans and executes the finale as well as the program’s letter sending party during Homecoming week. During the party, students send letters to their friends and family asking them to donate to St. Jude. If a letter recipient donates, the money raised is credited to the student who sent the letter.
Pollet said the amount of money raised by Up ‘til Dawn continues to climb each year.
“I’m looking forward to seeing everyone come together to celebrate their accomplishments and laugh the night away,” Pollet said
Pollet said this year’s finale is camp-themed and will include activities reminiscent of childhood summer camps, including a station where students can create their own trail mix. Pollet said students can also bring a white T-shirt to tie-dye.
“Up ‘til Dawn has been my favorite part of college, and as a senior I am sad to see this chapter of my life come to a close,” Pollet said. “Tomorrow isn’t about being sad. It’s about being happy about every dollar we have raised this year for the kids.”
Students will gather from midnight to 6 a.m. for food, games and activities, as well as a final reveal of the total amount raised, according to the press release.
Toti Cuervo, St. Jude sponsorship director, shared the special meaning behind the program’s title.
“We stay up ‘til dawn all night long in honor of the parents who stay up all night caring for sick children,” Cuervo said.
Cuervo said the event will include basketball and volleyball courts, bounce inflatables and silent disco, where students can put on headsets and dance to music.
Cuervo said although the minimum goal is $100 raised per student, it is not a requirement for attendance at the finale. Anyone who wants to celebrate can attend.
Elizabeth Hornor, 22, senior music business major, said last year was her first time attending the finale. Hornor said she became interested and inspired to participate in Up ‘til Dawn during her sophomore year when her roommate was a program morale captain.
Hornor said she looks forward most to hearing testimonies from St. Jude patients.
“We get to see a real person that’s impacted by the money we raise,” Hornor said.
Hornor said although students raise money as individuals, the total amount raised is per team. Hornor said she raised money by posting on social media and attending percentage nights at local restaurants. On percentage nights, participating restaurants donate a certain portion of a guest’s bill to St. Jude.
Hornor said staying up all night through last year’s finale wasn’t hard because she stayed engaged in the activities and didn’t really think about being tired. She said morale captains are on hand to “pump you up.”
Matthew Kamph, 21-year-old sport and leisure management junior and assistant director of Up ‘til Dawn at the U of M, said his two years with the organization have instilled in him a love for St. Jude.
“Up ‘til Dawn is an incredible organization that I am very lucky to be a part of,” Kamph said. “This organization is working to provide hope and funds for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, where kids and families are in the fight for their lives every day.”
The finale will take place at the Student Recreational Center. Pizza and refreshments will be provided, as well as coffee and doughnuts.
Morale captains reveal the grand total for this year’s fundraiser during the closing ceremony, reaching a grand total of $212,167.21.