Up ‘Til Dawn’s finale brought students together Wednesday for a lofty goal: to raise $65,000 for St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital.
The group raises money by writing letters and addressing envelopes at the event asking for donations. Junior Caitlin Kielblock, Up ‘Til Dawn director, said she hoped this year’s success would match previous years.
“Last year, with the $10,000 donation from coach Glenn Caruso, we raised about $30,000,” Kielblock said. “It’s not as much as we’ve raised in previous years where it’s been about $60,000 to $70,000. We’re trying to get back up there.”
Kielblock said one of the biggest contributing factors for the event’s success was the St. Thomas football team’s participation. Caruso requires football players to attend the event and write letters.
“It’s 150 guys and they’re pretty much required to come out here because (Caruso) is so committed to St. Jude,” Kielblock said. “It’s really cool to have them come out.”
Kielblock said she expected nearly 350 people to attend the event. Up ‘Til Dawn coordinators planned fun activities and special guests to draw students in. The event provided snacks, miniature golf, a photo booth with costumes and even the musical talents of juniors John Rowland and Mike Scheffler.
Junior Shane McWhirter said the event was a perfect fit for students because of St. Jude’s mission.
“I think this is a great cause to implement at our school,” McWhirter said. “It would be nice to get the word out there a little bit more because I feel like a lot more people on campus would be willing to come to events and support St. Jude’s.”
As for special guests, late-night letter writers were treated by a visit from cancer survivor, 6-year old Drew Giuliani and his family. Last February, Giuliani accepted the $10,000 donation to St. Jude’s from Caruso, who received the money for winning the Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year award.
Sophomore Matt O’Connell said he was proud of his team for its continuing effort to embody the St. Thomas mission statement.
“We talk about it all the time; being selfless and doing things for others and each other,” O’Connell said. “This means a lot and as a team we enjoy reaching out to others and helping.”
The good cause did have one potential drawback though. Senior Ayo Idowu said with the amount of letters he intended to sign, some hand cramps might be in his future.
“I’ll let them get tired for a good cause,” Idowu said.
Alex Goering can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.