First time event gets good turnout

Story by Scott Hansen

Posted at 9:17 a.m. 3/22/10

Normally the site of fierce competition, gym 210B and C at the McPhee Strength and Performance Center became a gathering place for those wanting to help out St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital Saturday night.

Up ’til Dawn, a student-led, student-run program that raises awareness and funds for the Hospital, held an event in which individuals came with 35 addresses to send pre-written letters to family and friends asking for small donations.

Individuals registered in teams and everyone who registered was given a free t-shirt. While the letters were being filled out, music was playing over the loud speakers, along with free food being available and games set up to play. Additionally, raffle tickets were being distributed for the chance to win a Nintendo Wii that was donated by St. Jude’s. All of the money raised goes directly to the Hospital, which keeps track of how much groups all over the nation, including the one in Eau Claire, make.

It was the first time the event had been held on campus as this is the organization’s first year. Sophomore Leah Davis, the executive director of the campus organization, said the event had a much higher turnout than she expected, adding the event drew a little over 80 participants.

“It was good for our first year,” Davis said, adding the event’s success will lead to it being held again next year.

Sophomore Kashia Ruberg heard about the group and its event in the fall of 2009 and once it got closer to the actual event date signed up to participate. She had done charity work in the past and was drawn to the event because of how much it helps out those who are less fortunate.

“It’s just good to raise money for all causes,” Ruberg said. “Everybody could use a helping hand . people should not not help out.”

According to a press release, St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital is one of the world’s top centers for research and treatment of pediatric cancer and other catastrophic childhood diseases. It is the only pediatric research center where families never pay for treatment that is not covered by insurance. No child is ever denied treatment because of a family’s inability to pay. It costs nearly $1.4 million per day to operate St. Jude, most of which is covered by public contributions such as the funds raised by the Eau Claire Up ’til Dawn group.