Up ‘til Dawn Celebrates Giving

Hannah Diehl, a sophomore from Louisville, and Kathleen Baker, a senior from Glasgow, battle in a dance off as a way to stay up all night during Up ’til Dawn event at E.A. Diddle Arena on Friday night. The event was dedicated to the children of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Ashley Copper/HERALD

Samantha Wright

Arches of silver, yellow and red balloons hovered over the entrances to the Diddle Arena floor, and columns of balloons were placed around the stage set up at one end. Red wagons, just like those used to pull kids around at St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, were placed around the floor.

Around 70 students gathered in Diddle Friday night to celebrate a year of giving as well as raise money for the kids at St. Jude’s. Ultimately, Up ‘Til Dawn participants raised $44,422 for the research center. 

To kick-off the event, Brianna Witty, who is attending St. Jude’s for follow ups having finished her treatment in the fall, spoke about her experience.

“St. Jude’s is where pretty much miracles happen,” she said.

Her mother, Patsy Witty, also spoke.

“Every time we go, we see something new,” she said.

Students, decked out in gear from the “swag table” at the check-in area, like red sweatbands, buttons and temporary tattoos, applauded Brianna’s story. Big Red, who was also in attendance, then gave her a hug. 

The emcee, Joshua Miller, from Louisville, explained the rules and spoke about some of the events that would happen during the night. A Google document tallied up team points, and the team with the most points earned prizes. Text alerts would be sent out throughout night to notify students of the upcoming events.

He pointed out the paintings that would be auctioned off at the silent auction and told students that they could nominate people for the dunk tank by writing a person’s name on one of the small cups lining the stage and making a donation. He also thanked Southern Threads, who had a table set up with some of their merchandise, for sponsoring the event. Members of the board then introduced themselves and explained why they were helping with this event. Several members had been on the board before and were returning because they had enjoyed it so much.

The first event was the Frozen T-Shirt contest, which took place outside. Teams had to grab two t-shirts that were rolled into balls and frozen out of a bin. They had to thaw the t-shirts out enough to put them on, and then two people had to cross the finish line in the t-shirts. As soon as Miller gave the all clear, students surged forth to the bin, and he had to scramble to get out of the way. Chaos then ensued, with students hurling the balls at the walls, smacking them on the ground, and with one girl even sitting on it. Eventually, two teams unfurled the shirts enough to tug them on, and raced across the finish line.

After the Frozen T-Shirt contest, students convened inside to grab a bite to eat and take a break.

 Emileigh McKee, from Elizabethtown, KY said she was ready to face a night without sleep.

“I took an extra-long nap today,” she laughed.

Students had varying reasons for attending this event.

Holly White from Louisville, KY, said she came because a member of her sorority was helping.

“One of my sisters is on the E-Board and encouraged us to do it because it’s such a great opportunity,” she said.

Katelyn Baker, from Glasgow, KY, had previous experience with the event.

“I came last year and it was really fun so I wanted to do it again,” she said.

Some students played volleyball and basketball in one of the gyms, while others took advantage of the large inflatable obstacle course that was set up. 

After the snack break, students gathered in the main gym to hear another guest speaker and play a trivia game. Other events throughout the night included painting with syringes, a duct tape superhero contest, a wagon relay race and the dunk booth. 

After over six hours of activity, the finale closed the event at 5:40 a.m. in celebration.