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Eight hours of sleep is what we are supposed to get. But for many folks – especially that raucous group known as college students – eight hours of sleep is a tale of mythology.
So in 1998, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital looked to harness the energy that seems to power college students and have them direct it toward supporting research against pediatric cancer.
Starting in St. Jude's own backyard at the University of Memphis, Up 'til Dawn continues to grow into a powerful fund-raising program that offers college students a chance to help raise funds and awareness for St. Jude.
Though called Up 'til Dawn, the program itself usually takes place over an entire semester during which a number of student-run philanthropic events can take place. It culminates into the final night, where all participants gather to celebrate their accomplishments for the children. And yes, sometimes those celebrations can keep them up 'til dawn. Students stay awake in honor of the patients and families that endure so many sleepless nights at St. Jude. The students' motto is "cancer doesn't sleep, so neither should we."
"Up 'til Dawn is a lot of hard work, but it is definitely worth it," said Laurie Yeargin, a senior at the University of Memphis and Executive Director of the Up 'til Dawn program there. "You know that you are working toward helping children and families who are in the worst moment of their lives. It's a great feeling knowing that no matter how big or small the contribution may be that I helped a child live."
Currently more than 154 colleges and universities nationwide participate in the program. And collectively, more than $10 million has been raised for St. Jude.
Last year more than 300 Up 'til Dawn students from 127 college campuses were in Memphis for the annual St. Jude Collegiate Leadership Seminar. The seminar gave these student leaders a chance to see the hospital first-hand and receive more training on how to effectively implement Up 'til Dawn on their respective campuses.
"The seminar was a great experience," said Chris Champagne, Up 'til Dawn executive director for Cal State-Chico. "It got me re-energized for this year's Up 'til Dawn and I got great ideas for ways to improve our program. It was great to see so many other college students with the same passion for helping the kids of St. Jude that I do." So far to date, Cal State-Chico has raised more than $100,000 for its Up 'til Dawn campaign.
This year's Collegiate Seminar is scheduled for June 1-4. To find out how you can attend or how your school can become involved in Up 'til Dawn, please click here.
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