February 22, 2012

Up ‘til Dawn philanthropic efforts growing

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- When Salukis do something, they do it all out. Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s ongoing Up ‘til Dawn philanthropic effort is certainly proof of that.

Since the fundraising effort on behalf of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital began with a November kick-off event, hundreds of students have helped raise more than $61,000 for the facility that treats children with cancer and other catastrophic diseases.  With donations still coming in, SIU Carbondale’s effort currently ranks fourth in the country in college benefit fundraisers for the hospital. 

But, students aren’t satisfied with fourth and they’re hoping that by the time the final tally rings up this summer, they’ll win “top Dawg” bragging rights while helping a most worthwhile cause.   The announcement of the final totals will occur at the 2012 St. Jude Collegiate Leadership Seminar in July.

“I am thrilled that the SIU Carbondale Up ‘til Dawn program has continued to grow on our campus since it began here in 2009.  Not only have we raised more money for the kids of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital each consecutive year, but we have also reached more and more students across our campus with Danny Thomas’ message that ‘no child should die in the dawn of life.’  In turn, these students are spreading that message to their friends and families and so on,” said Jessica Stout, event executive director for the University’s Up ‘til Dawn. 

Stout, a physiology/pre-medicine major from Taylorville, has been the campus executive director for the event since it began in 2009. Caitlin Moliske, also of Taylorville, is the assistant director.  In its first two years, the registered student organization raised more than $100,000 for the hospital.   Stout won the Executive Director of the Year Award while the philanthropic effort she leads won the Program of the Year Award at the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital 2011 Collegiate Leadership Seminar in Memphis last summer.  The awards recognized Stout and the program for the 2010-2011 year.

Student participation grows each year and already more than 1,200 students are involved in the work this academic year.  The Up ‘til Dawn kick-of event on Nov. 19, 2011, at the Student Recreation Center was bigger and better than ever, Stout noted.  Each participant brought at least 20 addresses of family and friends to whom they sent pre-written letters asking for donations for St. Jude.  Some sent many more letters, including Stout and Moliske, who each sent more than 200 letters.

Then, the students enjoyed a fun evening, which included entertainment and free food, to reward them for their humanitarianism.  So far their donation requests have brought in more than $61,400 for the hospital, leading the way in Region 13 and just behind third-place Western Kentucky University. California State University-Chico and Slippery Rock University are in first and second places, respectively.

“So far, we’ve raised more than $61,000 and the donations are STILL coming in.  It’s not too late to help.  People can still make donations to St. Jude on behalf of SIU Up ‘til Dawn at this website: http://getinvolved.siu.edu/involved/up-til-dawn,” Stout said.

“St Jude treats patients from all over the world, at no cost to their families.  Because of this, it costs more than $1.7 million every single day just to keep the hospital running,” she added.  “They also share all of their research findings and treatment protocols freely with the medical community, which means that St. Jude truly does make a huge impact on the fight against childhood cancer far beyond their walls.”

Stout, the daughter of Michael Stout and Marcy Stout, got involved with Up ‘til Dawn as a freshman and she’s watched the program blossom since then.  She plans to become a pediatric oncology physician and clinical researcher, so it’s not surprising that the cause is dear to her heart.  

“I have no doubt that our University’s Up ‘til Dawn will continue to grown in participation and donations with the new Executive Board taking over the program and I am very excited to see all of their successes for St. Jude in the coming years,” Stout said. 

She said the group is seeking motivated students to help carry on the tradition at SIU Carbondale.  SIU Carbondale’s Up ‘til Dawn is accepting online applications for chair and committee positions in recruitment, fundraising, public relations, advocacy, sponsorship and entertainment.  Undergraduate and graduate students from all majors can apply at https://orgsync.com/20149/forms/show/44162.  The group is extending the application deadline to 4:30 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 24.

“It’s amazing to see how this event has grown over the last three years and how our SIU Carbondale students come together to raise funds for St. Jude.  This has become a wonderful tradition for our campus and it continues to grow in participation each year.  But the most important thing is that our students continue to raise more money each year for the hospital,” said Andy Morgan, coordinator of fraternity and sorority life for Student Life and Intercultural Relations.