UT students, organizations raise money for St. Jude

Catherine Marfin

Since the fall of 2013, UT students have been working together to raise funds to support child cancer treatment and research for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis.

“Up Til Dawn” is a student-led philanthropic organization based out of the hospital. The program gives college students the opportunity to raise funds for the hospital. Students raise funds throughout the entire academic year and celebrate their success with an all-night event in January. St. Jude’s researches and treats childhood cancer and other life-threatening diseases, according to its
mission statement.

In fall 2013, international relations senior Regan Seckel set up the Texas chapter of “Up Til Dawn.” Any organization or student is welcome to join the program. Teams are challenged to raise at least $600, and individuals are challenged to raise $100. Besides online fundraising efforts, the Texas chapter raises funds through activities such as bake sales, snow cone stands and profit shares.

Each day, it costs $2 million to keep St. Jude in operation, and nearly 75 percent of these funds come from individual contributions, according to the hospital. The Texas chapter of “Up Til Dawn” currently has 195 fundraising participants and has collectively raised over $5,000. Participating groups include the Texas Bluebonnets, Texas Darlins and Texas Tri-Delta. Over a dozen individual student donors are working towards the $100 goal.

“Despite all odds, St. Jude is such a hopeful place,” Seckel said. “I take such pride in knowing that our organization makes even a small difference in the lives of these children and their families.”

In October, psychology freshman Brittany Smith joined the growing list of “Up Til Dawn” donors. Smith said she joined the organization in honor of her cousin, who recovered from cancer twice thanks to treatment from St. Jude’s.

“My cousin wouldn’t be here today if St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital hadn’t stepped in,” Smith said. “I want to make an impact on the lives of the patients and families. Cancer doesn’t just affect the person with cancer ­— it affects everyone who loves them.”

Besides fundraising, “Up Til Dawn” aims to raise awareness about childhood cancer and cancer research.

“This hospital exemplifies everything we are taught as Longhorns,” Haley Williams, internal executive director for the organization, said. “What starts at St. Jude is really changing the world for every patient who walks through the door.”