Forms of guerilla marketing, endless fundraisers and even games of Red Rover are just a few ways the university’s Up ’til Dawn executive board hopes to raise awareness about this year’s event.
The university will host its fourth annual Up ’til Dawn fundraiser from 9 p.m. Nov. 10 to 3 a.m. Nov. 11 at the Student Recreation Center to raise money for St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, which is in its 50th year of operation.
Donations to St. Jude are used to help fund childhood cancer patients’ care free of charge to the families, according to the hospital’s website. It also helps fund the research conducted to find cures for the diseases.
“Our main goal is to help fundraise and raise awareness for the hospital,” said Danielle Sheley, a senior from Taylorville studying interior design and Up ’til Dawn executive board director. “We plan from March to November, with several events leading up to the day.”
Sheley said Up ’til Dawn’s existing executive board conducts interviews every February to obtain 50 new members and start planning in March. The board starts its awareness efforts during the last week of September by handing out St. Jude buttons, ribbons and flyers.
The following week is marketing blitz week, she said, in which the board focuses on event registration. Board members continue to hand out St. Jude gear as well as put on “Be a kid, save a kid” days outside Lawson and Morris Library by hosting games such as Four Square and Red Rover, she said.
Attending Up ’til Dawn can earn students volunteer hours through Saluki Volunteer Corps for both attending the event and participating, said Joseph Gulick, a senior from Villa Grove studying physiology and member of the Up ’til Dawn executive board.
Sheley said a lot of time and volunteer hours go into making the event free for students to attend.
“We don’t want to spend money to make money,” she said. “We try to get as many sponsors as we can and get the community involved by going to local businesses first. We want to make sure that all the money is going to St. Jude. Even if it’s just the decorations, we’ll make sure to get all of those donated.”
Gulick said last year’s Up ’til Dawn event raised close to $66,000 in donations for the hospital. Of the more than 76 Up ’til Dawn events nationwide on collegiate campuses, he said SIU ranks fourth in its fundraising efforts after only three years of hosting the event.
“I’d venture to say that it’s almost becoming a part of SIU culture,” Gulick said. “Our turnout has increased every year, and I do not anticipate this year being any different. Generally, the more people that come, the more money we raise for St. Jude and the children that really need our help.”
This year’s event will be a military theme and include a step show, zumba, inflatables, free food, prizes and an appearance from a St. Jude survivor named Max, who is in remission from acute myeloid leukemia said Sheley.
Participants are asked to bring 20 mailing addresses with which they will send out prewritten St. Jude letters. The recipients of the letters then send their donations to the hospital.
“This cause is something that we can be united about as a campus community,” Gulick said. “We raise well over $60,000 each year in one single night. That is something Salukis should be proud of. This night isn’t just about raising money. It’s also about coming together and supporting a cause that so many people believe in.”
Sheley said many campus Registered Student Organizations form teams for the event, and any RSOs from Greek communities to individual clubs are welcome to attend.
“The fraternity and sorority community holds community service strong within our values,”said Jesse Cler, a senior from Penfield studying agribusiness economics and plant and soil sciences as well as president of the Inter-Greek Council. “Having an opportunity as large as Up ‘til Dawn helps us get out and get involved in these positive charitable organizations.”
Alexis Bergman, a senior from Quincy studying zoology and a member of Students United and Making Major Impacts on Tradition, said the best part of participating in the event is knowing she is makes a difference just by showing up, sending 20 letters and having fun.
“I enjoy getting to hang out with people I don’t always see while doing something good and giving to an important cause,” she said. “I didn’t realize how much I was giving back. Those 20 addresses are doing more than people can imagine.”