College students embrace St. Jude mission

Up 'til Dawn participants at Texas Christian University

Tri Delta sorority sisters at Texas Christian University pose with
St. Jude patient, Cody, at their Up 'til Dawn event.

With summer’s end, college students around the country will be heading back to campus for another semester of study, exams and, for some, helping the children at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Collegians have stepped up in past years and embraced the St. Jude mission, helping the hospital through programs geared to the volunteer-minded student. St. Jude has a host of activities that offer a break from the everyday study courses and classes while also helping children battle life-threatening diseases.

Up 'til Dawn

One skill that students learn to master during their college years is to stay “up ‘til dawn.” So a few years ago, St. Jude looked to put that skill to use for the hospital with its own Up ‘til Dawn program.

Throughout the school year, students perform activities such as writing letters to family and friends, canning for donations and any other activity they can think of that will raise funds for St. Jude. At the end of the fund-raising drive, the students get together and have an all-night party filled with food and fun activities, from karaoke to karate lessons to hearing from a St. Jude patient thanking them for their support.

This year, more than 100 colleges are expected to host Up ‘til Dawn events on their campuses.


One of St. Jude’s latest fund-raising activities looks to raise funds through the African-American tradition of stepping. Stepping is an art form practiced by African-American fraternities and sororities around the country. Stepping, which is a variation of tribal dance rituals, is still practiced in some regions of Africa. It is a complex performance involving synchronized percussive movement, singing, speaking, chanting and drama.

Developed by African-American fraternities and sororities, stepping has expanded to elementary, middle and high schools, community groups, African-American churches, as well as Latino, Asian-American and multicultural Greek organizations. Competitions are organized by fraternities and sororities who then invite other fraternities from other schools. St. Jude is hoping to inspire fraternities and sororities to hold stepping competitions to benefit the hospital.

Four Square

The newest program is a revival of the game four square. More than 40 college campuses are expected to host a North American Interfraternity Conference Four Square Tournament.

A team of four players must pay $1,000 or write 50 letters to family and friends through a letter-writing campaign to participate. Provided the school reaches its fund-raising goal, the winners of the tournament will then come to Memphis, Tennessee, in April for the NIC Four Square National Championship.

Other ways to get involved

In addition to specific activities, fraternities and sororities are also joining in the St. Jude cause. The women’s fraternity, Delta Delta Delta, with chapters on college campuses nationwide, has been raising funds for the hospital to complete their pledge to endow the St. Jude Teen Room in four years. The Teen Room in the hospital is a haven for teenage patients; no adults or young children are allowed to enter.

Other fraternities that have announced partnerships in the past year are Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc., Southeast Region Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc. and Iota Phi Theta Fraternity Inc.

“We are pleased that college students are starting to make a difference for our children,” said Jeff Gardino, manager of Collegiate Marketing for ALSAC, the fund-raising arm of St. Jude. “Their support means that a child who may not have had hope before will now have the chance to attend college and participate in all the activities of a typical college student.”

For more information about any of these programs, contact Jeff Gardino at


August 2003