Students fight sleep deprivation for St. Jude’s
After years of following the same template for a letter-sending party, the Up ‘til Dawn Recognized Student Organization tried something new. Emporia State students, as well as the organization members, took part in activities to keep them awake and help them feel the same exhaustion of children fighting cancer. They ate, danced and played games from 11:30 p.m. to 4 a.m. on March 28 and 29.
“I think the biggest thing that students didn’t really connect with, in comparison to the letter sending party, is that they didn’t really realize that all of our patients really do stay up all night,” said Daniela Carrasco, bilingual event marketing executive for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. “Not because they want to and it’s fun, (but) because they have to because (of) their treatments. Somebody could be having a treatment right now, or somebody could be checked in and it’s three a.m.”
In years past, Up ‘til Dawn had a two-hour event where students and community members would send letters to 50 individuals, informing them about St. Jude’s mission and asking for a small charitable donation.
“We run through St. Jude, and they changed the whole structure,” said Logan Rice, senior nursing major and president of Up ‘til Dawn. “Previously, we ran the letter-sending party, and that’s all we did.”
The new structure allows for more involvement with the process and provided a variety of chances for donations, including a blacklight Zumba event called Black Out Cancer, which raised $300, and a fundraising event at Pizza Ranch, which brought in $220. As of now, the group has raised about $8,400 and still hopes to see more mailers sending their donations in the coming weeks.
“We’re known for the letter-sending party, and now it’s different,” Rice said. “Instead of just having a two hour ‘come write letters and leave,’ St. Jude wanted to have it be like, ‘stay up for good,’ and have every campus around the United States do the same thing.”
In addition to those who helped raise funds for the research hospital, a patient and his family attended the event to share the story of how the three-year-old son of Jill Darge, who is from Wichita, was diagnosed with cancer 11 years ago.
“We thought he had bronchitis, but it turned out that he had cancer,” Darge said. “I mean, who would have thought? We certainly didn’t. So it’s just overwhelming. A million things go through your head… You wonder if, how your son is going to live. You wonder how you’re going to pay for everything.”
What they thought was a popped blood vessel in his eye due to coughing turned out to be cancer, and after seeing a pediatrician and an optometrist, they were recommended to take Dalton to St. Jude’s, where travel, lodging and medical attention would be paid for by the hospital.
“When families come in, we do see if they have insurance, but we do not charge the insurance,” Carrasco said. “Because right now, yes, the child could have cancer and they do need the treatments, but let’s just say they need something else in the future. We never want to max out their insurance. That’s why these types of events are so important. Because even if they do have insurance, we don’t charge the insurance.”
Her twin sons, who were only nine-months-old when Dalton was diagnosed, and Dalton played along with the students in a game of glow-in-the-dark capture the flag. The boys, however, chose to watch the other events, which included Zumba, a frozen T-shirt contest and a hot dog eating contest.
The night ended with a paper lantern release and breakfast.