Up ‘Til Dawn finale raises awareness of childhood cancer

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

Cancer never sleeps, and on Friday night, neither did WKU students.

From 9 p.m. to 5 a.m., several student organizations participated in the Up ‘Til Dawn finale in the Preston Center.  

Up ‘Til Dawn is a collegiate fundraiser for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Students had to write 25 letters to friends and family urging them to support St. Jude during the letter writing campaign in order to participate in the finale.

Both Greeks and non-Greeks attended the finale.  

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.

Kappa Alpha president, Louisville junior Jordan Clark, said that his fraternity came to show support for St. Jude.

Clark hopes that students who participated have “a better understanding of what St. Jude is about and where their money is going.”

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 rep 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 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 up, the Up ‘Til Dawn executive board hosted games, activities and entertainment for the students.

Red Bull had a Paper Wings competition where students could participate in three different challenges — longest distance, longest hang time and aerobatics.

The winners of the competitions received four VIP tickets to Forecastle, a concert in Louisville. They were also entered into the world competition, where they will have a chance to go on an all expense paid trip to Austria to compete in the international finals at Hanger Seven.

Entertainment for the night began with hypnotist Brian Imbus. Several musicians took the stage after Imbus, including Nashville native Taylor Henry and WKU students Dallas Wilson and Jordan Minton.

The finale was not only a celebration of WKU’s fundraising success, but also a chance for students to see what it’s like 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.