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Celebrating the St. Jude Up 'til Dawn legacy

For 21 incredible years, students have sacrificed sleep through St. Jude Up ‘til Dawn. As it comes to a close in the final year, let’s celebrate the impact from students nationwide.

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Thanks to thousands of college students who participated in Up 'til Dawn, St. Jude can pursue innovative research that leads to more breakthroughs.


Because of your hard work, families never receive a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing or food — so they can focus on helping their child live.


21 years of helping St. Jude kids

In 1998, St. Jude wanted to harness the energy that powers college students and have them use it to help support pediatric cancer research. What started at the University of Memphis in 1999 as a letter-writing campaign that culminated into a 24-hour celebration, has activated more than 100,000 students and raised more than $50 million for St. Jude.


I wanted to be a part of a team and contribute to something bigger than me. College is an interesting time of growth and formation and I was drawn to the idea of creating something special for St. Jude.

- Greg Caesar, first  St. Jude Up ‘til Dawn Fundraising Chair at the University of Memphis


I am so grateful for my time working with St. Jude Up ’til Dawn.  I was able to make great friendships with students from different parts of campus that I otherwise wouldn’t have gotten to know.

- Jeff Gardino, first St. Jude Up ‘til Dawn Executive Director at the University of Memphis


A look back

  1. At the height of program’s success, more than 250 campuses partnered with St. Jude and raised more than $5M annually. The program surpassed the $1M mark in 2003.

  2. St. Jude Up 'til Dawn started (and remained for many years) as a campus-wide effort to raise funds and awareness for St. Jude. Over the years, the fundraising strategies used by schools evolved to include side events, letter-writing, social media challenges, St. Jude No More Cancer Rallies and more. 

    Throughout its lifespan, a core element of the program was gathering and memorialize this support with an all-night event that served equal parts sacrifice and celebration. Students would stay awake in honor of the patients and families that endure sleepless nights at St. Jude. Their motto: "Cancer doesn't sleep, so neither do we."

    The finale event evolved over the years, too. Initially recognized as 24-hour long event, it transitioned into to a one-night event that lasted until dawn.

  3. The first ever St. Jude Collegiate Leadership Seminar now known as St. Jude YOU began in 2001 with St. Jude Up 'til Dawn students visiting the hospital and learning fundraising best practices. In 2006, the seminar expanded to college students outside of the Up 'til Dawn community.


Being a part of Up ‘til Dawn has impacted my life in a major way! It’s how I became involved on campus and it impacted how I am a leader. Without this organization, I wouldn’t be the leader I am today, nor would I love my campus or have friends for a life time! Also, because of Up ‘til Dawn I learned what it’s like to be like Danny and to apply his foundation to our organization.

- Sarah Starc, University of Memphis


A look at what's next

Up 'til Dawn is coming to close, but we’re not leaving campus. More than 60 schools will continue to help lead the way the world leads, treats and defeats childhood cancer and other life-threatening diseases. In this season of change, we are giving college students more freedom to support the St. Jude mission in ways that best fit their communities.

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This experience has impacted me for the better. It has taught me how to fight for things that I love and feel strongly about. It has also helped me with a lot of personal growth. I have developed so many connections and relationships that I wouldn’t have if it weren’t for Up ‘til Dawn. I’m proud to support St. Jude because they do amazing work without expecting anything in return. The work they do has such an impact on so many lives. I love supporting something that is so much bigger than myself.

- Morgan McAlexander, Arkansas State University


Celebrate St. Jude Up 'til Dawn

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