Staying up for the Kids!

According to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, the late entertainer Danny Thomas founded the pediatric treatment facility on February 4th, 1962. Mr. Thomas dedicated the hospital to St. Jude, the patron saint of hopeless causes, after praying and stating that if St. Jude would show him his way in life, then he would build a shrine. Since its founding, St. Jude has been leading the way according to their mission statement regarding the way the world understands, treats and defeats childhood cancer and other life-threatening diseases. St. Jude’s website states that the hospital has helped push the overall childhood cancer survival rate from 20% to over 80%. At St. Jude, no family ever receives a bill for treatment, travel, housing or food - because as St. Jude states, all that families should have to worry about is helping their children fight and live.

Behind St. Jude is the fundraising and awareness organization, ALSAC. ALSAC, American Lebanese Syrian Associated Charities, was founded in 1957 and exists to be the sole fundraising and awareness organization for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. ALSAC supports the $2.4 million daily operating cost of the hospital through various programs and events, one of which is St. Jude Up ’til Dawn.

UT Martin’s Up ’til Dawn Executive Director Morgan Lawrence along with the Up ’til Dawn Executive Board have been working all summer in order to plan and execute a night of support. Up ’til Dawn is an organization at The University of Tennessee at Martin that raises money for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. Up ’til Dawn is a collegiate nationwide fundraiser in order to campaign for childhood cancer awareness. Up ’til Dawn uses teams of students to raise money. Across the nation, collegiate teams of Up ’til Dawn ran boards to help raise money in order to support St. Jude patients and their families financially. Every year, all of the teams at UT Martin come together for the BIG event: an all-night finale in which students stay UP ’TIL DAWN playing games and raising money for the kids! Morgan said, “Founder of St. Jude, Danny Thomas, said ‘no child should die in the dawn of life,’ so we stay up ’til dawn for one night to fight for the lives of these children.” This is where they get the phrase, “Staying up for the kids!”

Students at UT Martin can sign up to participate in the fundraising at http://fundraising.stjude.org/site/TR/UTD/UTD?pg=entry&fr_id=75569.

Teams are compiled of up to six students; however, any student can sign up as an individual if he or she wishes. This year, the event will be held from November 10 at midnight until November 11 at 6 am, dawn. Morgan wants to encourage everyone to participate in this fundraising event. She says, “This night isn’t even a small glimpse of the many sleepless nights the children and families have while being a patient at St. Jude!”

Many students who campaign for Up ’til Dawn have St. Jude stories of their own. Morgan is no different. I asked Morgan why she is so dedicated to Up ’til Dawn, and she told me about her dear friend Jay. Jay fought childhood cancer as a patient at St. Jude for seven years. Morgan says, “I stay up for the 20 percent of children, like Jay, who are fighting for their lives against this disease. I want to one day say that I helped bring the survival rate of childhood cancer from 80 percent to 100 percent.”

I want to congratulate Morgan for all of her hard work, and I hope that the Up ’til Dawn event exceeds all of our expectations!

If you are interested in donating to Up ’til Dawn or St. Jude or have been led to become a fundraising member for Up ’til Dawn, please contact Morgan Lawrence at 731-571-2813 or at [email protected].

Photo courtesy of Jamie Arena