Letters sealed with hope

Students got the opportunity to celebrate Mardi Gras and contribute to a good cause when Up ’til Dawn [UTD] held its finale event last Tuesday on the UC Patio. Along with a barbeque, T-shirt giveaway, and a two-set performance by Unison, the R&B trio currently signed to ‘Cane Records, over 800 letters were written to raise money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn.

UTD is a program hosted by more than 100 universities nationwide and works to raise money and awareness for St. Jude. The hospital, which specializes in cancer research and pediatric care, houses nearly 4,600 patients and is completely funded by donations. Patients do not pay for anything beyond what their insurance covers, and patients with no insurance do not have to pay for their treatment. UTD raises money through a letter-writing campaign, encouraging the UM community to write letters to their friends and family asking for donations to the hospital.

“The quality and care of the facility was incredible,” said Billy Bludgus, chair of UM’s UTD, of his visit to St. Jude. “The kids and their families were so gracious of everything-it had a profound impact on me.”

UTD’s goal for the year is to receive 3,700 letters. Before the finale, it had gotten 2,500. Bludgus said that many letters are currently pending, and with the success of the finale event, he was confident they would reach their goal.

“Student organizations have really helped through organizing letter writing parties and encouraging members to donate,” Callie Simon, UTD executive board member, said. Some organizations-among them the Panhellenic Association and Student Government-have made direct donations to St. Jude in the name of Up ’til Dawn.

To date, Up ’til Dawn has raised nearly $11,000 from the
letters written during the fall semester

The current campaign hopes to top last year’s donation of 12,000 dollars. To date they have raised nearly 11,000 dollars from the letters written during the fall semester, and they expect that amount to be much higher by the time all of this year’s donations are accounted for.

Mariana Rego, UTD executive board member, said the program promotes good feelings in all its participants.

“When you think about it, we’re really helping to cure childhood cancer, and that rocks,” Rego said.

>> For more information on UTD, contact the Volunteer Services Center at 305-284-GIVE.

Dave Maggiotto can be contacted at d.maggiotto@umiami.edu