Up ‘til Dawn: Letters to raise money for St. Jude

Kaci Parker
Staff Writer

Up ‘til Dawn was an amazing way for Marlins to show support outside of our community. The office of Residence Life helped to facilitate this event. With their help and the establishment of the partnership with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, everything for the event was ready to go. Opening up the event to the entire campus brought many different groups together for the same goal. Greek organizations, athletic teams and Residential Hall and Community Service communities all worked together for one amazing cause: helping to save the lives of children.
“It was so great to have members of the VWC community come together on a weeknight to raise awareness for such a worthy cause,” said Residence Life staff member, Brian Daniel.
Every individual who was in attendance was motivated to help make a difference in the lives of others. Some of the people also had stories behind their attendance, ranging from personally knowing someone who was affected or simply word of mouth. Freshman Catherine Gillespie’s personal experience is what inspired her to give back to St. Jude for all they did for her and her family.
“This cause is important to me because my cousin had a rare bone cancer and St. Jude saved her life. I wanted to help out by donating and volunteering for the cause,” said Gillespie. “Without St. Jude, she would not be able to do the things that she does now. I am thankful for St. Jude. She only had a 5% chance of living, and they saved her life. She is now in her 11th year of remission.”
“Two of the resident assistants on my staff are interning with St. Jude,” said Daniel. “When they approached me to ask if Residence Life could host this event, I agreed and told them they have my full support because of their passion for this cause. Personally, my family supports St. Jude every year because of the outstanding reputation it upholds.”
Many of the students left the event knowing that they helped to make a difference in the lives of someone they may not even know. They walked away from this with a new definition of giving back.
“Participating in this event made me feel a little better,” said freshman Toni Aris-Howell. “I felt that I was helping someone, and even if it was only one, that was enough for me. It feels really good to know that I am helping save lives.”
“Participating in this event was easy to do and made me feel like I was connecting my life to a great cause by asking my family and friends for their addresses,” said freshman Brooke Totzeck. “When we signed in, we each received a hospital wrist band with a name of a patient and their condition. This put a new perspective on what we were doing and motivated me to help.”
By the end of the night all of the participants learned more about St. Jude and their mission. Some even gained a new perspective on life.
“I think the students took away a better understanding of the reason behind the letter writing,” said Daniel. “I also think that the participants took away a sense of empowerment that they can come together as a campus community and make a difference on our campus.”
The number of students who took the time to address letters to their families and friends to spread awareness of St. Jude speaks a great deal of the campus community as a whole.
“The number of students at the event speaks volumes to how much effort this campus community puts towards service learning,” said Daniel. “It shows that the students are truly living by the Marlin Creed through giving back.”
Through the efforts of our campus community, over 4,000 letters were sent to participants’ families and friends.
“Knowing that reaching out to my family and friends could possibly save a life makes me wish this event could happen more than once a year!” said Totzeck.