Stay Up ‘Til Dawn to Defeat Cancer

By Carolyn Plantin

One in five children diagnosed with cancer in the U.S. will not survive, according to the St. Baldrick’s foundation website. This is why UT and many other universities around the nation come together one night every year to participate in Up ‘Til Dawn and raise money for children battling cancer.

This event is held to raise awareness and money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, TN. These funds then go toward cancer research and allowing patients under twenty one years of age to be treated free of cost.

This year, Up ‘Til Dawn will be held on Saturday, Dec. 3 in Cass gym. So far, UT has raised close to $12,000, and the fundraising goal for this event is $35,000. Students are allowed to register as a team of six or participate individually. Each participant is expected to raise at least $100 to enter the event. The team that has raised the most money so far is The Executive Board Team 1 with a total of $2,907. Rahal Wijewardene, a sophomore majoring in philosophy, is the top individual fundraiser with $962. The top three fundraising schools around the nation are Illinois State University, Texas Tech and Iowa State University with each raising more than $58,000.

During the event, many activities are set up to help the participants with, as the name suggests, staying up until dawn. In the past, activities such as syringe painting, obstacle courses and many others were put in place to keep people stimulated and energetic throughout the night. Sponsors also offer food and beverages throughout the event. This year, some of the sponsors are Publix, PEACE and Courtesy Auto Group.

“Sponsors are important because with each dollar we raise for St. Jude, the closer we get to getting rid of cancer for good. Because no kid deserves to suffer.” said Nathan Legger, a sophomore film major and the public relations chair on the executive board of Up ‘Til Dawn.

In the past, UT brought in past patient as guests of honor and encouraged them to speak about their experiences with St. Jude. The speakers mentioned how much Up ‘Til Dawn furthers the goal of helping children and families get through the atrocities of cancer.

“The Up ’Til Dawn executive board has been planning this event from the end of last semester, over summer and throughout this semester,” said Khadijah Khan, a senior journalism major and the Advertising & Public Relations Director of the organization. “We’re all immensely passionate about St. Jude and ensuring that no child dies in the dawn of life.”

Khan founded the organization Up ‘Til Dawn on UT’s campus in 2014. The eight-person executive board is selected by Emily Parker, the St. Jude representative at the Tampa office.

“I am incredibly lucky to take part in such an inspirational organization, one that not only encourages me to pursue opportunities, but one that also eagerly embraces life’s challenges with a smile and a drop of hope,” Khan said.

The organization has held many fundraisers to promote the event and to raise money towards their cause. They held fundraisers at Chipotle and, this past Monday, had a grilled cheese fundraiser here on campus where students were able to order a grilled cheese and have it delivered to their residence hall. They have also had a few fundraising parties to educate participants on how to raise money effectively while making an impact about their cause.

An Up ‘Til Dawn Passport was given to all students interested in the event. The passport is a small booklet composed of all the activities Up ‘Til Dawn will hold before the big event on Dec. 3. When students show up to those events, they learn facts about the cause and get their passport stamped. This helps with knowing how many people are passionate about the cause and want to raise money and awareness.

“I’m participating in St. Jude Up ‘Til Dawn because I wanted to contribute to an amazing organization that helps so many families,” said Jason Ryan, a sophomore majoring in new media production.

Carolyn Plantin can be reached at

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