By Rae Jefferson
A cancer-fighting student organization is taking some time to celebrate a semester’s worth of crusading against the disease.
The Baylor chapter of Up ‘Til Dawn, which arranges on-campus fundraisers for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and promotes awareness of pediatric cancer, is playing host to The Big Event 6 p.m. Friday on Fountain Mall.
The event will be held in celebration of the end of a fundraising campaign, in which participants, in groups of six, were given one month to raise as much money as possible for St. Jude pediatric cancer research. Alexandria, La., sophomore Tori Hinton, the organization’s Education Mission Chair, said the event will feature four main activities for attendees: dodge ball, capture the flag, Zumba and a painting station.
“It’ll just be a fun night where they can eat food, win prizes, have a little bit of competition, and celebrate all the hard work they’ve done,” Hinton said.
Although the event will be held in honor of fundraiser participants, anyone is welcome to participate in the event’s activities until its conclusion at midnight.
Woodlands junior Kiresha Johnson, Up ’Til Dawn’s Publicity Chair, said she hopes attendees will become more aware of the need for pediatric cancer research funding.
“Hopefully they’ll be able to see the importance of it and grow passionate about,” she said. “The more people you have that are passionate about it, the better fundraising will be.”
Hinton said she wants the event to attract potential members.
“I really want for them to see how much fun our organization is,” she said. “Hopefully we can make it grow in the next few years. I hope that people learn about our organization through it.”
St. Jude is a hospital that produces useful research and is well worth the time and effort put into fundraising, Hinton said.
“I just think that the hospital is a great cause,” she said. “It’s a great thing to put your money into. I do it for the kids.”
Hinton said she decided to join the organization because of first-hand experience with leukemia.
“I’m a former cancer survivor, so it’ my own motivation to do it,” she said.
Johnson said her work with the organization is motivated by how much families facing pediatric cancer benefit from the funds raised by Up ‘Til Dawn chapters on college campuses across the country.
“These families are sort of dependent upon us to raise money for them,” she said. “In my heart, I feel like it’s a responsibility – a duty to do this for them. The things we do are so moving and so important.”
Johnson said Up ’Til Dawn is a great organization for students interested in medical studies involving children.
“I want to do something with pediatrics – maybe a pediatric surgeon or something, so this has really sparked my interest and passion,” she said.
Johnson said the student organization has made appearances in chapel and sold baked goods in past semesters to raise awareness and funds for pediatric cancer research, but this is the first year they are hosting The Big Event.
“It’s been done in the past, but it done by a completely different organization,” she said.
Students interested in learning more about the organization can attend The Big Event or visit the Up ‘Til Dawn – Baylor University Facebook page.