WKU raises more than $67K for St. Jude

Up ’Til Dawn, an event for students who raised money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, took place in Preston Center Friday night. Students who wrote 25 fundraising letters were allowed to take part in the event, which involved games, Red Bull Paper Wings and free food.

Kayla Swanson

Bowling Green mother Kim Cunningham knows firsthand that cancer never sleeps.

Cunningham’s son, Robert, was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia at age 12 and spent 13 months at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn., to receive treatment.

When first arriving at the hospital, Cunningham was immediately struck by the “magnitude” of the facility.

“It’s not an ordinary hospital,” she said.

One of the first treatments Robert underwent was a bone marrow transplant. His bone marrow donor was his younger sister and Cunningham’s daughter, Emily, who was two years old at the time of the transplant.

Robert lost his battle with cancer on July 26, 2010.

“She was his angel, and now he is hers,” Cunningham said.

Cunningham told her son’s story to students who attended the Up ’til Dawn finale on Friday from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. at the Preston Center.

Up ’til Dawn is a collegiate fundraiser for St. Jude. Students had to write 25 letters to friends and family urging them to support the hospital during a letter-writing campaign in order to participate in the finale.

Both Greek and non-Greek organizations attended the finale.

Phi Mu sorority came because they like to support philanthropic events.

“I feel like it’s a very important cause. It’s always important to support others in a difficult time such as cancer,” said sisterhood chair and Owensboro junior Elizabeth Pickens.

Louisville sophomore Meg McDonald, a Sigma Kappa, said her sorority found out about Up ’til Dawn through a fellow sorority sister.

McDonald’s aunt was excited to find out that Sigma Kappa was participating because her aunt’s boyfriend spent time at St. Jude as a child.

“I think children are people that need to be fought for because they can’t fight on their own,” McDonald said.

Through the letter writing campaign and other fundraisers, Up ’til Dawn at WKU has raised $67,431.28 and counting this year for the hospital. Over the 12 years that Up ’til Dawn has been at WKU, it has raised $752,821.45.

Students’ fundraising efforts have not gone unnoticed. WKU is in the top three of the nation for their fundraising.

Hollie Hayden, a senior event marketing representative with St. Jude, believes the number of people WKU has involved in Up ’til Dawn is the reason for their fundraising success.

“A lot of universities have a lot of trouble getting people involved. Every year, WKU surpasses everybody because they get thousands of people to the letter-writing and make it fun,” she said.

Hayden also hopes that by participating, students will be encouraged to work at St. Jude or participate in next year’s executive board to help organize fundraising events and the finale.

To help students stay awake, the Up ’til Dawn executive board hosted games, activities and entertainment for the students.

The finale was not only a celebration of WKU’s fundraising success, but also a chance for students to see what it’s like to stay up for an entire night, something that St. Jude families do every night to take care of their children.

“We like to bring a fun event to celebrate their efforts but remind them why they’re here,” said Bowling Green senior Gina Scenna, executive director of the Up ’til Dawn executive board.