Macon—Mercer University students will be hosting their second annual Up 'til Dawn overnight finale event to raise awareness and support for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital from 7 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 28, until 7 a.m. the following morning. At the 12-hour celebration, students faculty and staff will "party all night" for the kids of St. Jude in the gymnasium of Mercer's Human Resources and Recreation Building.
"We have great activities planned all night long," said Shruti Desai, Up 'til Dawn executive director. "Local St. Jude patients will kick off the celebration by sharing their personal experiences. It really reminds us what a great cause we have all been working for."
The finale event includes basketball games, laser tag, salsa dancing lessons, a twister tournament and various activities to boost spirit and keep the crowd energized through the pre-dawn hours. "We have been planning this event since last fall, and the schedule is packed with fun," said Desai, a junior from Smyrna, Ga . "We even have extra activities like crafts, hula-hoops and board games. There is definitely something for everyone."
Over the fall and spring semesters, Mercer students on the Up 'til Dawn committee have raised money and increased awareness for St. Jude by conducting various fundraisers. They also held awareness days on campus to educate their peers on St. Jude by celebrating patient birthdays, wearing hospital wristbands in honor of specific patients and sending holiday cards to the hospital.
"The finale event is our last effort to raise money and also show our excitement for a great year helping St. Jude," said fund-raising chair Ami Patel of Wellington, Fla. "We gave St. Jude more than $13,000 last year. It was our first experience with the Up 'til Dawn program, and we actually raised more money than most other universities did that also began the program last year. This year, we hope to do even better."
While a current total amount of money raised will be revealed at the finale event, funds will be collected until April 5. The organization hopes to assist St. Jude in continuing to make advancements in cancer research as well as providing care for children with catastrophic childhood diseases.
"The fact that we are supporting a wonderful cause and having a great time doing it is the icing on the cake," said Kelly Wade of Colquitt, Ga., who is in charge of keeping morale high. "I am so excited about our big event this weekend and the children we will be able to help with the money we raise."
Founded by the late entertainer Danny Thomas, St. Jude is an internationally recognized biomedical research center in Memphis, Tenn., dedicated to finding cures for catastrophic diseases of childhood. The hospital's work is supported through funds raised by the American Lebanese Syrian Associated Charities (ALSAC). ALSAC covers all costs not covered by insurance for medical treatment rendered at St. Jude. Families without insurance are never asked to pay. For more information on St. Jude, visit www.stjude.org.
Founded in 1833, Mercer University is one of the largest Baptist-affiliated institutions in the world and is the only independent university of its size in the nation to offer degree programs in liberal arts, business, engineering, education, medicine, nursing, pharmacy, law and theology. For 13 consecutive years, U.S. News and World Report has named Mercer University as one of the leading universities in the South.