Up ’til Dawn stays awake for St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital

Megan Swindell

St. Jude may be the patron saint of lost causes, but that hasn’t stopped Philip Christensen and Torry O’Brien, juniors, from spreading hope.

In an effort to “start something of [their] own” on campus, these two accounting majors teamed-up last April and approached St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. After nearly a year of planning, partnering with the Delta Delta Delta sorority and the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity, Christensen and O’Brien are bringing St. Jude’s “Up ‘til Dawn” fundraiser to Iowa State.

Up ‘til Dawn is a student-run event that raises awareness and funds for the Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn. Funding is crucial for the operation of this hospital because no matter their financial situation, patients are never turned away.

“It takes about $1.7 million a day to run the hospital,” Christensen said. “However, all treatment and stay is free.”

Up ‘til Dawn helps to ensure treatment for children with chronic illnesses.

“Fundraising for Up ‘til Dawn is special because its more than just the money we raise, its about the children and their families,” Christensen said. “Its about the connections we are fortunate enough to bond with them, so they know they are not alone on their new path.”

Iowa State is joining nearly 300 colleges in St. Jude’s 50th anniversary year to help fulfill their mission of saving lives. These two co-presidents invite and encourage students, faculty and community members to attend the event, which will take place on Saturday in Beyer Hall from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m.

The funds are raised through the mass mailing of letters asking for financial support. The participants are asked to bring simply themselves and 50 addresses to fill out onto pre-written letters.

“Bring a family Christmas card list or graduation party list” O’Brien suggested in order for people to come up with the 50 addresses. The more people that receive the letter, the more opportunity there is to raise money.

“Those who bring at least 50 will be entered into a drawing for a $200 Visa giftcard,” O’Brien said.

The party only begins with the letter sending. It continues with music, free T-shirts, Buffalo Wild Wings, games such as Minute to Win It and Fear Factor, and multiple team events to be entered into raffles.

The guests of honor will be three patients from St. Jude’s. Two of the guests will be physically present at the event to share their story and the third will visit via Skype from their hospital room.

“There is already a lot on campus, but every dollar counts, even if it’s just another $50,” Christensen said.

Proceeds from Up ‘til Dawn will benefit a different group of children than Dance Marathon.

“There are a bunch of kids from Iowa with chronic illnesses,” O’Brien said.

Not only will this benefit children from all over, but it will also assist kids close to home. As the motto says, “Fight the yawn — stay awake to cure childhood cancer.”

To register for Iowa State’s Up ‘til Dawn letter-sending party, anyone interested is encouraged to visit www.myuptildawn.org, www.twitter.com/ISUUpTilDawn, http://www.facebook.com/pages/Up-til-Dawn-Iowa-State-University or sign up on site.