Celebrating the Children

Samantha Salvio

Up ‘Til Dawn surpasses their fundraising goal, raising over $34,000 for the patients at St. Jude Children’s Hospital.

Photo by UNH Photography Club
Photo by UNH Photography Club

After six months of hard work, University of New Haven’s Up ‘Til Dawn surpassed their goal of $30,000 and raised over $34,000 for St. Jude Children’s Hospital, becoming the top fundraising Up ‘Til Dawn university chapter in the New England region.

To celebrate, Up ‘Til Dawn held their finale event beginning on March 1. All the teams that actively helped in raising the money towards the patients of St. Jude checked in at the Beckerman Rec Center by 10 p.m. and prepared themselves to stay up all night.

Senior Colby Thammavongsa shaves his head at the Up ‘Til Dawn Finale Event, March 1.

This concept of sacrificing a whole night’s rest was to step into the shoes of those children who have cancer and suffer many sleepless nights, whether it be because chemotherapy that day was too much to handle, or fear of not being guaranteed another day to live. Publicity Chair Kerry O’Brien described the experience of helping the cause as “heartwarming” and “put in perspective” our efforts to give these children hope.

Compared to last year’s finale event, there were many noticeable changes that prove to have contributed to the exponentially larger amount of money the university was able to raise. Last year, this event was open to the whole university to enjoy and fundraising was not a requirement to enter.

Although there may be some opposition to the new structure, Internal Director, Colby Thammavongsa, explained the reasons for the change. “National headquarters realized it only made sense to have those who fundraised enjoy the event because the finale event was meant to celebrate the efforts of the money raised for the child patients.”

Every child who is admitted to St. Jude is not charged anything and the mission of Up ‘Til Dawn is to help continue to make that a possibility. This goes along with the theme of this year’s event; “Hope Glows in the Dark.” All the E-Board members had a similar outlook on what this statement meant, and agreed that, in the dark hours of struggle of being a child with cancer and the parents who support them, there is hope. St. Jude’s provides hope to continually develop new treatments and universities nationwide, like UNH, provide hope to parents who will not have to worry about hospital bills. This way, they can concentrate completely on their child getting well because “no parent should outlive their child.”

Throughout the night, teams competed in three challenges and were provided with many side events to make the time pass by quickly until dawn. Fifteen minutes before the first challenge, all 17 teams of six were first alerted by a text to report in the German Club at 11:45 p.m. Using only plastic syringes and cups filled with paint, teams had to paint their interpretation of what St. Jude’s meant to them. After a careful evaluation by a selected panel, A-Team took first place.

During a break intermission there was food, indoor laser tag, a mechanical bull and a Zumba class to occupy the teams until the next challenge was sprung on them. Soon began an all-out tournament of elimination dodge ball and the last challenge ended with a Minute-to-Win-It relay race around the track. These events exemplified both how hard the patients at St. Jude’s had to “dodge” illness and the physical activity they missed out on as a regular child.

For the closing ceremonies the regional representative Jill expressed how truly amazing the university’s efforts were in comparison to other universities who had more teams. This accomplishment can be seen as a whole university coming together; graduate students participated, EMS Club stood by in case of any emergencies and RecSports provided officials for the dodgeball tournament.

To reiterate Andrew Mayer’s announcement, “It is not too late to donate! April 1 is officially when fundraising for this year ends, so continue to bug your friends and relatives! Save the children!”

Photo by UNH Photography Club
Photo by UNH Photography Club