Medical Center 10K Classic to wrap up Make a Difference Week

Stephani Stacy

About 30 students huddled quietly around tables spread with pens, markers and paper in the Cupola Room behind the chatter of Red Zone on Wednesday.

They were volunteers helping to raise money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital through the Up ‘Til Dawn fall session, one of the events of WKU’s Make A Difference Week.

The week, which started on Oct. 14, will continue with the Medical Center 10K Classic on campus tomorrow at about 8 a.m.

To be a part of Up ‘Til Dawn, students had to fill out at least 25 prewritten letters requesting donations, addressing them to friends, acquaintances and businesses, said Rachel Kelley, a Bowling Green senior who is one of the letter-writing chairs. She said the participants weren’t allowed to write to strangers or fellow students.

Kelley said Up ‘Til Dawn holds letter-writing sessions in both the fall and spring, but the latter is usually smaller. She said volunteers sent n sent out 30,000 letters through Up ‘Til Dawn last autumn, raising $133,000, but even that amount of money didn’t come close to what it costs to run St. Jude for just one day.

According to St. Jude’s website, the total expense for 2009 was $792,827,000, meaning that daily expenses amounted to more than $2 million.

“It’s a depressing statistic, but if you walk in the hospital, and you see the hope, you’re not depressed about it anymore,” said Kelley.

A group of about 30 volunteers, many of them students, starts planning for the fall event at the beginning of every school year, said Aaron Pawley, an Elizabethtown Masters student who became involved with Up ‘Til Dawn when his sister was diagnosed with cancer at age 12.

“I became involved at Centre College, transferred over here, and never left the program. I love what we do for kids. I love the hospital. It’s kind of therapy for me in a way,” said Pawley, an assistant director of the event.

Students also participated in Make a Difference Week through the Support the Troops Drive, which lasts through October.

Sponsored by the Volunteering in Progress (VIP) program, the drive collected travel-sized hygiene products like shampoo, soap, lip balm, deodorant and food packets containing trail mix, energy bars and beef jerky to send to soldiers, said Molly Donnelly, a graduate student from Smiths Grove.

“We decided that October would be good so we could get them supplies and some letters before the holiday season,” she said.

Donnelly said that as of Friday afternoon, the drive had collected 30 pounds of supplies to send to soldiers in Afghanistan.

They will keep collecting items until Nov. 3, Action Day for VIP, which will take place in the lobby of DUC from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

During this event, VIP will provide letter-writing materials for anyone who wants to write to soldiers stationed in Afghanistan.

“Hopefully we’ll have names of Western soldiers or alumnae who are overseas so we can put a name to who those letters are going,” Donnelly said.

The Jail & Bail United Way Fundraiser, originally planned to be part of Make a Difference Week, has been postponed until next spring.