St. Jude survivor becomes Up 'til Dawn ambassador

Contributed by Amanda Shaker

When Kathleen Brown helped organize an all-night bash at her school, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (U of I), it wasn't just another college party. There was plenty of the usual dancing, singing and music, but this time it was for a cause special to Brown: St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

Brown's knowledge of St. Jude did not come from a brochure or a meeting, but from her own life. In August 1995, while performing a routine cyst removal on Brown's back, doctors found a grapefruit-sized tumor, which was diagnosed as Ewing sarcoma.

At St. Jude, the 13-year-old underwent 52 weeks of chemotherapy and six weeks of radiation. In 1996, with her cancer in remission, Brown left Memphis carrying St. Jude in her heart. Now, she has taken her love of St. Jude to Southern Illinois.

Brown, who co-chaired U of I's Up 'til Dawn last year, has been a dedicated advocate. "I believe in giving sick children a chance to live the sort of life that we sometimes take for granted," Brown explained. "Being a St. Jude survivor, I wanted to give back to the hospital that allowed me to live a healthy and normal life. The St. Jude staff is my second family and I am grateful that I was treated with such loving care. I can never repay them for their efforts."

Brown caught the Up 'til Dawn bug that has been swarming campuses nationwide. "We are really pleased with schools' responses to the program," said Jeff Gardino of ALSAC, the fund-raising arm of St. Jude. "It's a fun event and it gets the students interested in the hospital."

About Up 'til Dawn

The program extends throughout the year, culminating in an extravaganza that keeps college students up all night. As ALSAC's first program for young adults, Up 'til Dawn has surpassed all expectations. More than 70 campuses participated in its fourth year, raising nearly $1 million in 2002. This year, 110 schools are committed to take part.

Up 'til Dawn generates campus-wide awareness of St. Jude. A student executive board leads each Up 'til Dawn program by coordinating the finale event, organizing fund raisers and recruiting teams. To participate in the all-nighter, teams must raise money through special events and a letter-writing campaign. U of I's letter campaign alone raised $34,599, and Brown's fund raisers included spaghetti dinners, doughnut sales and a date auction, to name a few.

Even with last year's success, Brown is working hard to make this year's Up 'til Dawn bigger and better.


February 2003