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Up ‘Til Dawn writes letters for St. Jude

November 1, 2012

Students gather in the Lambright Fitness Center to discuss Up Till Dawn’s annual letter writing campaign. - Photo by Kyle Kight

 

KELSY KERSHAW
Staff Reporter

 

The daily operating cost for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is $1.8 million, and this is covered primarily by public contributions.

 

When things get rough, asking for donations or moving through the logistics of one of Up ‘til Dawn’s fundraisers, Samantha Rachel pauses and remembers whom it is for.

 

“Everything revolves around the children and their families at St. Jude’s,” said Rachel, assistant director of Tech’s UTD. “I am so proud to be a part of UTD and passionately support its cause.”

 

From 10 a.m.–10 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 6, in the Tonk in the Student Center, UTD will host its annual letter-writing campaign.

 

UTD, which was started by St. Jude’s, started as an all-night letter writing campaign, said Gabrielle Bourgeois, director of Tech’s UTD.

 

“It transformed into an organization that plans and carries out many fundraisers, including the letter-writing campaign,” she said.

 

She said Tech’s chapter also does a glow-in-the-dark 5K run called “Light the Night for St. Jude.”

 

“It is a good way for poor college students to raise big money for a more than worthy cause,” Bourgeois said.

 

Bourgeois also said they ask that people register in teams of five. The registration forms are available in the housing office and can be turned in there also.

 

She said UTD encourages students to write a letter to save a life. Every year during fall quarter, UTD hosts this event.

 

“St. Jude’s sends us 5,000 typed letters and specialized envelopes to send out to ask for donations to be sent to the hospital,” she said. “In years past, we have raised anywhere from $4,000 to $24,000 from this event alone.”

 

Rachel said all students have to do is bring addresses. Bourgeois said they are hoping this year will be like the year they raised $24,000.

 

“Almost all UTD chapters in universities across the country have this event,” she said. “It is an extremely effective way to raise money for St. Jude’s.”

 

No family ever pays a dime for anything when they are helped at St. Jude’s, she said.

 

“They have the most cutting-edge research not only in childhood cancer, but in catastrophic diseases too,” Bourgeois said. “They share all of their research with doctors and hospitals around the world.”

 

In the end, many who have had, do have, or will have cancer or another life-threatening disease will benefit from the funds raised by this event, she said. Rachel said everyone knows someone, or knows someone who knows someone, who has fought cancer or is fighting cancer.

 

“This is what the children have to look forward to at such a young age, instead of playing with Barbies and Hot Wheels or making friends and watching cartoons,” Rachel said. “It is an excruciating thought.”

 

She said that their organization is all about the children and everything they do goes to those kids.

 

“The children compare St. Jude’s to Disney World,” Rachel said. “It is the happiest place on earth according to them, which is mind boggling when you think of everything they are going through.”

 

In a world where X-rays are hundreds of dollars and MRIs are thousands, families do not pay a cent to St. Jude’s, Rachel said. She added the fundraisers that UTD does contribute to that.

 

“The funds go toward the research the hospital conducts to find preventions and cures for illnesses,” Bourgeois said.

 

She said they want more people to get involved with the event so that is why they encourage team registration.

 

“People are more likely to come if they don’t have to come alone,” she added.

 

Bourgeois said there will be games for students to participate in for prizes and free food also.

 

“We will have giant Twister (picture 25 Twister boards put together), inflatable bowling and possibly something large and inflatable from TruValue,” she said. “The prizes come from local places and they will be drawing once every hour.”

 

Students could win a $30 Chili’s gift card, four movie tickets to Celebrity Theatres or a gift basket of Tech items from the bookstore, she said.

 

If the students help St. Jude’s, then they will help the students.

 

“The grand prize gift card is donated by St. Jude’s to UTD to give away in a drawing to a participant who writes 50 or more letters,” Bourgeois said.

 

She said they just want people to know the immense impact they could make on these children’s lives by participating in this fundraiser.

 

“Being a part of this cause makes me feel like I’m doing something with my life,” Rachel said. “I am a part of something big, amazing, and selfless and that feeling is beautiful.”

 

Email comments to kjk016@latech.edu.

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