Up ‘Til Dawn celebrates year of hard work, dedication

A year of fundraising will be rewarded Friday night during the Up ‘Til Dawn finale party.Up ‘Til Dawn is a student-run organization that has been raising money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn., for more than six years. Last year, the organization raised more than $50,000.

The finale party is a reward for students who supported the organization throughout the year by participating in projects, such as letter-writing campaigns where participants write to inform friends and family about the hospital and ask for donations.

The opening ceremony will feature a family speaking about their experiences with St. Jude and a video about the hospital.

The finale party will also include food, prizes, free chair massages, a dodgeball tournament, a yoga and dance class and performances by Red Tape and Senseless Acts of Comedy.

Whitney Merritt, a senior history major and co-director of Up ‘Til Dawn, said St. Jude is a children’s hospital like no other.

“They use red wagons to bring the children around rather than wheelchairs,” Merritt said.

Vahista Bharucha, a senior dietetics major, has been a part of Up ‘Til Dawn for five years.

Bharucha said St. Jude looks nothing like a typical hospital, with a theme in each hallway, patient artwork displays and a supply of toys.

St. Jude treats children who have various types of cancer, diseases and certain infections.

Once a patient is accepted, St. Jude pays for all medical costs that are not covered by insurance, Bharucha said. Also, she added, families without insurance are never asked to pay.

It costs more than $1 million a day to run St. Jude so the hospital needs as much help from outside sources as possible, Bharucha said.

All of the funds raised by Up ‘Til Dawn go directly to the hospital.

Merritt said St. Jude shares all of its research findings with the medical community, so any cancer treatments developed there will help local hospitals like Cook Children’s.

Emily Gilmore, a junior interior design major, has participated in Up ‘Til Dawn since her freshman year.

Gilmore, along with several other Up ‘Til Dawn members, was able to experience St. Jude firsthand during a summer visit to the hospital.

“When we actually got to see the patients and visit them. We saw who we were helping and the lives we were changing,” Gilmore said.

Gilmore said TCU students are fortunate enough to have made it to college.

“A motto we’ve taken on is ‘Let these children live to see their college years,'” Gilmore said.