Last night, I had the opportunity to take part in the St. Thomas Up ’til Dawn event. Throughout the fall, each regional St. Jude office holds Up ’til dawn events at local college campuses.
For region 6, St. Thomas marked a halfway point in the UTD season. Last week College of Saint Benedict & Saint John’s University raised $22,587 for the patient families of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Winona State, Drake and Iowa State are on the horizon.
Up ’til Dawn calls for students to create teams and fundraise prior to the event. Teams arrived at UTD around 11 p.m., settling in and enjoying food from Subway, Chipotle and Kind.
At midnight, the event began and a St. Thomas student, Chase Baumgartner told the moving and uplifting story of losing his best friend, Dylan Witschen, a past St. Jude patient. The tellings of the friendship that developed through playing football together, reminded all participants how vital it is they help children “stay up for good.” The Dylan Witschen Foundation thrives in the teenager’s memory.
Throughout the night, participants were entertained by team challenges and minute-to-win-it style games.
One inspiring student, Brittni Sundby, encouraged people to donate by promising to shave her head if she reached her personal goal of $1000. Reaching her goal 9 days before the event, anticipation built. Updating peers and family on Facebook, Brittni confirmed that she would indeed be shaving her head to show support for the children who have no choice but to be bald.
Nearing dawn, Brittni donated her long auburn locks, stating “those kids need hair more than I do” and is now rocking a bald head. Brittni served as the co-director of the St. Thomas UTD executive board and on team St. Jude Rockin Eboard, whose fitting tagline was Bald is Beautiful. The teams and St. Thomas community raised $23,170 for St. Jude, reminding everyone on the St. Jude team of the value of events like these.