Students find ways to combat cancer, raise awareness

By Gus Bode

Students across campus have found various ways to raise cancer awareness, whether it’s through the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital or the American Cancer Society.

At Saturday’s Up ‘til Dawn event, students addressed and sent donation request letters until 3 a.m. at the Student Recreation Center for the hospital. St Jude, located in Memphis, Tenn., is a hospital that researches cures for types of pediatric cancer.

The event had blow-up obstacle courses, a DJ, minute-to-win-it games and a “Fear Factor” competition.


Delta Chi members Mario Bucci, right, a freshman studying civil engineering, and Doug Carter, a freshman studying electrical engineering, write letters Saturday during “Up ‘til Dawn” at the Recreation Center. “Up ‘til Dawn” is a program hosted by more than 180 colleges and universities nationwide that raises money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Sarah Gardner | Daily Egyptian

Jessica Stout, director of Up ‘til Dawn and a senior from Taylorville studying physiology, said plans for the annual event begin in the spring.

She said though Up ’til Dawn is a Registered Student Organization, members have to follow rules set by St. Jude, so executive members must go through an interview process before joining.

Besides the executive members, more than 60 people volunteered at the event, Stout said.

Stout said last year’s event raised more than $56,000, but she won’t know the amount raised this year until March when all donations are received.

She said she hopes more than $75,000 is raised.

“I thought it was definitely our best one so far based on participation,” she said.


Beth Schaefer, a sophomore from St. Charles studying elementary education, said she thought the turnout was better than that for the previous year.

“It seems like more and more people show up to this event every year,” Schaefer said. “I’m not surprised, though. They have blow-up obstacle courses and a DJ, and lots of other fun stuff to do.”

Participants also received one community-service hour for every 10 letters they addressed to donors.

The RSO Colleges Against Cancer is another way students can raise cancer awareness. Affiliated with the American Cancer Society, CAC has more than 300 national chapters.

Caleb Nehring, senior health initiatives representative for ACS, said the SIU chapter organizes Relay For Life, another annual event, held in the spring. Relay For Life is an all-night event that raises money for the ACS.

He said the group participates in education and awareness events such as the Go Cold Frozen Turkey Bowl and a spring event to fight skin cancer.

“It’s also a peer-to-peer type thing for other students to talk to their fellow students about why they shouldn’t smoke, or should exercise or use sunscreen,” Nehring said.

CAC president Jasmine Sonier, a junior from Swansea studying nursing, said the RSO has four goals. She said the first is to educate people about cancer awareness; the second aims to advocate laws favoring preventative cancer measures; the third is to participate in Relay For Life; and the fourth is to celebrate survivorship.

Doug Sanders, a kinesiology instructor, is the faculty adviser for CAC. He said this is his second semester as adviser, and it’s given him a different experience from teaching.

“With a lot of the classes I teach, I’ve been mainly involved in all the multicultural options, so I don’t necessarily see the development of students,” Sanders said. “But with this group, if I’m here long enough, I’ll be able to see them as they grow and develop in leadership.”

He said it’s interesting to see how involved students become.

“The perception by many is that our young people aren’t as engaged as what you see with different movements, such as Occupy,” he said. “But it’s there, just maybe there hasn’t been the opportunity for many before to do it, so in college they get the opportunity with various organizations.”

Sanders said one of his goals for the year is to get to know the members better, since many are returning.

Sonier said she wants to the group to be more active on campus.

“We want people to know we are here, and we can get other people involved,” she said.