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ISSUE 119 VOL 7 PUBLISHED 11/4/2005

Up ‘til Dawn raises money to fight disease

By Jean Mullins
Executive Editor

Friday, November 4, 2005

Up ‘til Dawn hosted its annual letter-writing team meeting and final party in the Pause Tuesday. The organization is made up of St. Olaf students dedicated to raising money for the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn.

The event’s name comes from the tradition that participants stay up all night writing letters, listening to the music and celebrating the work of St. Jude. It offers participants the opportunity to write letters to their friends, relatives and neighbors asking for donations for St. Jude.

Of the donations received, 86 cents out of every dollar go directly to the hospital. The hospital, in turn, pays for the travel, lodging and food expenses for families with children being treated at the hospital, as well as hospital care.

Michele Asmussen, an event marketing representative with Up ‘til Dawn, explained that taking care of each family's experience is important to the founder of the hospital, Danny Thomas.

"He wanted the families to focus on their child getting better," she said.

St. Jude also does not utilize a family’s insurance for care, paying all the expenses from the hospitalization and care as well.

Asmussen said 200 schools around that nation participate each year in Up ‘til Dawn events. Usually, a school has a letter-writing team meeting and then a final event in the spring, but as Alejandra Calderon ‘'06, a member of the Up ‘til Dawn executive board, explained, the board combined the two events because they were predicting a small turn out.

The event on Tuesday featured St. Olaf musicians and bands, including Matt Olson, the Stanley Brothers, The Plagerists and Isle of Lucy.

The event also featured a raffle with gift certificates donated by Northfield businesses, such as Erberts & Gerberts, Basil’s Pizza, Caribou Coffee, Tiny’s, River City Books and Mr. Movies.

Showing on a television screen to the side of the stage in the Pause were videos featuring patients and their families giving testimonials of their experience at St. Jude. "They give an idea what we are fundraising for," said Emily Hofer ’'06, also a member of the Up ‘til Dawn executive board.

This year was unique in that St. Jude, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, took in some of the patients fleeing hospitals in the South. These patients and their families, like all the others at St. Jude, had all their travel, lodging and food expenses paid by the hospital.

Asmussen explained that by giving to St. Jude, donors are also giving to some victims of Hurricane Katrina.

"We're letting people know that they are still giving to Hurricane Katrina by giving to Up ‘til Dawn," she said.

Calderon got involved with the organization her first year at St. Olaf. After she joined the executive board her junior year, she was given the opportunity to visit St. Jude’'s this past summer.

"It is inspiring to see what all this fundraising goes to," Calderon said.

St. Jude treats all catastrophic childhood diseases, including sickle cell anemia, AIDS and many rare and common forms of cancer.

The hospital also does expensive research in many fields, including cancer research and developing an AIDS vaccine. They are not funded by the government and rely primarily on private donations.

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