Use your words to save lives during Up’ til Dawn

By Linda Nguyen

Staff Writer

Be a hero.

Save a life by something as simple as writing a letter.

That’s the goal of the Up’ til Dawn finale event that will take place from 7 p.m. to midnight Friday in Russell Gymnasium.

The event is hosted by the Baylor chapter of Up’ til Dawn, a national organization that raises money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

During the event, which is a culmination of a week of letter writing, participants will engage in a letter writing campaign, addressing pre-made letters that ask for donations to their family and friends. The event is open to students, and costs $5 to register. The money will cover the cost of posting the letters. T-shirts will also be sold at the event for $5.

Nacogdoches senior Kelsey Carpenter, co-president of Baylor’s Up’ til Dawn, said participating in the event is a good way for students to raise money for St. Jude.

“Basically, Up’ til Dawn is an organization on campus whose sole purpose is to raise money for St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital,” Carpenter said. “Every patient that goes to St. Jude does not pay to go there. Food, education and housing for parents and even siblings is covered.”

The money raised from the Up’ til Dawn finale event, as well as the other bake sales and car washes throughout the school year, is used by St. Jude to provide treatment and living accommodations for children and their families.

Carpenter said the finale event is Up’ til Dawn’s biggest fundraiser of the year.

“Last year, we raised $24,000,” Carpenter said. “Participants bring as many addresses as they can. We have pre-made letters that they fill out. The goal is to get all the people they send letters to send money in their name and in Baylor’s name.”

Carpenter said the event isn’t all about addressing letters, however.

“We also have a lot of entertainment,” Carpenter said. “We’re giving away tons of prizes, about $400 worth from local businesses. We’ll have music and games and a photobooth. It’ll be a really fun time.”

Some of the games and entertainment will be “Minute to Win it” style games like Mummified, a partner game where one person wraps the other person in toilet paper, and fish bowl, which is a game where participants toss ping pong balls into fish bowls and whoever gets the most ping pong balls into the fish bowls wins. All the winners receive a prize. Some of the prizes include a Baylor basketball signed by Brittney Griner, a football signed by the Baylor football team and a baseball signed by the Baylor baseball team.

Carpenter said Up’ til Dawn is important to her personally because of the prevalence of cancer in people’s lives.

“Cancer pretty much affects everyone, but when you see these children that are being diagnosed with these fatal diseases, you want them to be able to have a future,” Carpenter said. “It’s so sad to me that some of these children won’t have a future. I don’t want cost to be the reason for that. Up’ til Dawn is a great way to raise money and give children a future.”

Weslaco senior Brianna Smith, the other co-president, said the organization helps her serve others.

“I’ve always wanted to help kids, but being an undergraduate, you can’t do much beside raise money,” Smith said. “St. Jude treats kids with cancer for free, and even though it takes millions of dollars to run a hospital, even if you raise $25, it still helps.”

Smith has been involved in Up’ til Dawn since her sophomore year.

“My sophomore year we raised $13,000, and last year we raised $24,000,” Smith said. “We did a lot and we learned a lot.”

Smith said the increase could be attributed to increased participation, which led to more letters being answered and more donations given to St. Jude.

Smith said students who can’t come to the finale event are still encouraged to get involved with Up’ til Dawn.

“They can email us at or like us on Facebook,” Smith said. “We’re also planning on doing something smaller in the spring, and we always do bake sales and car washes.”

Smith said students who want to address letters but can’t go to the finale event on Friday should also email

“They can email us so we just meet with them and give them their letters,” Smith said. “A lot of board members are more than willing to meet up with individuals and groups.”

Smith said the finale event will be superhero-themed to go along with the theme “Be a Hero, Save a Life.”

“At the event we’ll have different tables with superheroes, and they’re fighting a disease,” Smith said.

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is a pediatric cancer treatment and research hospital in Memphis, Tenn. They provide treatment for children with cancer and help provide living accommodations for their families using money raised through donations and fundraisers on the hospital’s behalf. No family ever pays for treatment at St. Jude.