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College students from across the country will convene on the St. Jude campus July 29 - 31 at the annual Collegiate Leadership Seminar. The seminar is a three-day workshop that provides students with fundraising skills and new ideas to guide them toward a successful fundraising event for St. Jude.
Up ‘til Dawn is a fun, team event where students raise money throughout the school year by sending letters to friends and family. Schools then host an all-night event to celebrate the money raised and to honor the patient families of St. Jude who often face sleepless nights during the long battle against childhood cancer and other deadly diseases.
"This weekend is by far the highlight of my summer," said Mike Harding, Up 'til Dawn executive director at Washington & Jefferson College. Harding attended the conference for the first time this year. "Not only do I get to tour the one-of-a-kind hospital and visit with amazing patients, but also get the tremendously helpful experience of meeting fellow Up ‘til Dawn leaders and sharing ideas!"
Harding and other attendees had the opportunity to attend workshops and connect with other students who share the goal of helping the kids of St. Jude—kids like former patient Hayley who now works on her campus to lead Up ‘til Dawn.
"When I was 10 years old, I was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer. St. Jude saved my life, and I knew I did not want to waste that gift," Hayley said. "When I went to college, I learned about Up ‘til Dawn and realized it would be the perfect opportunity to give back. I can never repay the support, hope and love that the St. Jude workers gave me, but I hope that by participating in Up ‘til Dawn, I can help St. Jude continue the mission until they find a cure."
Both the Up ‘til Dawn program and the Tri Delta partnership are not just successful in supporting St. Jude, but in providing college students a stronger bond to their college and teaching them the importance of helping others.
Amanda Phillips, a Southern Illinois University at Carbondale Up ‘til Dawn advisor said the seminar "provides such a strong connection for students, giving them an even greater fuel to come back to campus and engage more students and partners for the kids. This definitely has an impact on our campus community.”
Tri Delta members are also working hard to make an impact on college campuses as well as on the St. Jude campus. This long-standing partner of St. Jude is currently in the midst of their "15 in 5" campaign—a push to raise $15 million dollars in five years to name the Specialty Clinic located in the Patient Care Center at St. Jude.
"I am extremely proud to call myself a Tri Delta knowing the impact our sorority has on this wonderful organization," said Jenee, mother of St. Jude patient Anna James. "As an active member, I did not fully realize the significance we made with our philanthropy … my daughter Anna James is proof of the incredible research, treatment and care that is provided at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital."
This year marks the 10th year for the conference and its resonance with college students. Phillips summed up the experience, "Each time a student visits the hospital, I witness their passion and commitment to St. Jude strengthen."