A spirit of goodwill filled the air Thursday night as 150 CSU students scribbled down the names and addresses of seemingly everyone they knew onto white envelopes that read simply “Up ’til Dawn.”
The letters were then stuffed with slips asking for donations to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and the brave children who fight cancer daily.
“These kids have to go through a lot, so we should do what we can to help them out,” said junior sociology major Michelle Benjamin as she scrolled through her cell phone’s address book in search of more potential letter recipients.
CSU students arrived to a refreshment stand stocked high with soda and energy drinks the Lory Student Center Main Ballroom to spend the night writing family, friends and other community members.
“It’s a great cause helping St. Jude’s children. Just looking around at the posters, it’s amazing what a million dollars can do to help kids beat cancer,” said Sponsorship Chair for Up ’til Dawn Megan Scoglio.
Besides writing letters, the night’s activities included testimonials and videos from St. Jude representatives and raffles with prizes to local business.
Although originally intended to continue until dawn, the event concluded at 11 p.m., which will produce a more enjoyable all-night finale planned to kick off sometime in spring said Carla Webb, a senior marketing representative for St. Jude’s.
“In the past they’ve combined the lettering and the finale, but it wasn’t working because kids were getting involved in the activities but they weren’t writing any letters. So we’re splitting it in half so they can just relax and have a good time come spring,” she said.
A volunteer for St. Jude’s throughout high school and college, Webb said her employment with the organization was an “easy transition.”
“I’ve worked with a lot of children with cancer. And though it’s terrible in adults as well, watching a child lose their innocence and life at the same time was more than devastating. I wanted to use my skills and experiences to fight cancer,” she said.
“We try to stay up at all hours, but it just didn’t work out this year,” said event coordinator Ashley Hamand, whose inspiration derives from her mother, who suffered and survived breast cancer.
“Hopefully, over the years we will have more people participate and grow to help out this great cause,” she added.
Aided by two local children who are currently battling with cancer, Hamand emceed the event throughout the night and provided prizes for raffle winners.
As the night grew later and still more students arrived in groups to write letters, Webb took a moment to say how she appreciates the privileges of her tenure at St. Jude’s.
“St. Jude’s allows parents to be parents at a time that is critical to their family’s life because they are not requiring them to pay anything. It’s a phenomenal gift to give someone, and I don’t think it’s a gift anyone else is giving.”
Staff writer Tyler Okland can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.