The party began at 8 a.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 6. As participants walked into the University Center Ballroom, the Up 'till Dawn letter sending party started.
The Up ‘till Dawn program began at the University of Memphis around 14 years ago. It is partnered with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and is comprised of several year-round fundraising events, one of them being the Letter Sending Party.
“This is out biggest fundraiser of the entire year," said volunteer Taylor Means. "Our goal for this year, we are hoping to get $150,000... We are sending out 25,000 letters."
After participants walk in and register, they receive their bundle of 50 letters. They address the letters to friends and family and turn them back in so they can be mailed. Once the letters reach their destination, the recipients are able to mail in a donation and St. Jude receives all of the profits.
About 51 years ago, then actor Danny Thomas opened the doors of St. Jude
It is such a cherished hospital because they treat devastating pediatric diseases, mainly cancers, and no child is denied treatment based on race, religion or a family's ability to pay.
The daily cost to run St. Jude is close to $1.7 million and the majority of the money comes from donations. On average about 8,000 patients visit the hospital each year but these lives are not the only ones affected by the work being done.
“After my first year of being a member of Up ‘till Dawn, I’ve really developed a love and passion for St. Jude and everything that they stand for,” said Paaton Karel, a chair for the program, as she reflects on what this program means to her. “Being able to meet so many patients over the last year has been a really awesome experience.”
Up ‘till Dawn still has more in store in terms of fundraising.
On Nov. 7, To the Wall will take place right outside the University Center. Ricky Kirby, the president of the Student Government Association, will be taped to a wall and to set him donations of $2 must be made to remove strips of tape.
All these small fundraisers lead up to the actual Up ‘till Dawn program that lasted from 12 a.m. to 6 a.m. the next day and at that time the amount of money raised for that year is announced.
For more information on Up ‘till Dawn or how to be involved, visit their website.