Third annual fundraiser another success
Allison Kemon and Mikara Cimmino said they had huge expectations for Keene State College’s third annual Up ‘Til Dawn event.
Kemon and Cimmino, fundraisers who work in the Boston regional field office for St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, were the first faces seen upon entering the Up ‘Til Dawn St. Jude’s fundraising event Monday, Nov. 5. Kemon explained the two fundraise for the hospital in Memphis, Tenn., and share the role in covering all of New England, excluding Vermont.
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“We do all of the fundraising and event planning,” Kemon said, “Here at [KSC], they’ve had a really successful past couple of years…we’re really hoping that we beat our fundraising total from last year which was just over $30,000…so this is our third year doing it and we’re hoping for around $40-$45,000.”
For the event, students gave cash donations, but the main donation was in the form of letters.
Kemon explained, “Basically, we ask each student to bring 50 names and addresses, and they’ll send out letters to friends and family, and with every 50 letters sent out, we usually get an average donation of about $250 back,” she continued, “Everyone checks out with us, we check to make sure addresses are correct and we send them all out.”
The Mabel Brown Room in the Young Student Center was decorated with balloons and pictures of smiling faces of children who received care from St. Jude’s. Music was played, food was served, and games and activities were open to all.
The students participating in the letter sending event were given a t-shirt, and entered in raffles for prizes such as gift certificates and gift baskets.
“The event is like a celebration because it’s hard work to write all of those letters for donations, but it’s worth it,” senior Mel Sachs, assistant executive director of the executive board and planning committee for the St. Jude’s cause, said. “It’s an amazing way to get the whole school involved.”
The Up ‘Til Dawn event involved yearlong planning beginning in the summer. It’s primarily a letter writing event for St. Jude’s due to that fact that it takes $1.8 million per day to keep the hospital up and running.
“Once a child is diagnosed with a catastrophic illness, a family is never turned away,” Sachs said. Sachs explained the significance of the hospital, and the impact Up ‘Til Dawn has had in the past. Sachs said, “The hospital is represented by countries all over the world, and they do not charge any family or any procedure or care. So, if a child is getting a stem cell transplant, the family never sees a bill for it. Ever. It’s entirely run off donations from events like this.”
“I’ve been the liaison between our representative from Boston [Kemon], and our event on campus,” Sachs said.
Sachs continued, “I was flown out to St. Jude’s for free for a college leadership summit. We got to tour the hospital, talk to some patients and see how it is run. It was unbelievable.”
Alyssa Tremblay, a KSC senior and the e-board executive director of the program, said has been working with the Up ‘Til Dawn event since it came to KSC, was also flown out to the hospital. “It was really rewarding when I got to go [to the hospital] and actually see all the amazing things that they do there,” Tremblay said.
She explained how St. Jude’s is not like a regular hospital: “It is colorful and bright and filled with artwork from the patients to make them feel more at home compared to a [regular] hospital.” Not only does Up ‘Til Dawn raise money for children, and awareness for the KSC student body, but it also serves as a fun, memorable experience for all involved.
“The most memorable experience I have had volunteering with Up ‘Til Dawn is the amazing people,” Tremblay explained, “Whether it be students here at the school or the rep from St. Jude that works with us, because I know they have so much passion, just like me, to raise money for such an amazing cause to better these children’s lives.” Sachs added, “We’re doing it for the kids. Yeah, 50 letters is a lot, and we are here all night but it’s really worth it to me.”
“If six hours of our time can take the burden off a family whose child has just been diagnosed with a catastrophic illness, that’s amazing,” she said.
“Usually we try to do a follow up event, or an awareness type thing, so we have some ideas flopping around,” Sachs explained regarding how KSC stays involved with St. Jude’s outside of the Up ‘Til Dawn event.
She added, “We might be doing, maybe golf cart rides to class to tell students about St Jude’s, or even just having another table in the student center telling people who we are, and what we do. We’re just trying to make it known what students can do to help.”
“We’re just really excited about how great the turnout continues to be every year here [at KSC] and how involved the whole [KSC] student body gets in the actual event. We’re really happy to see that there are so many college kids here so passionate and willing to help out St. Jude’s,” Kemon said.
“As a small school, what we do here [for the fundraiser] is pretty amazing. It’s an amazing cause, these families deal with more than anyone should ever have to deal with, so even if this one little thing we do will help, it’s worth it,” Sachs said, “We’re the reason families at St Jude’s can have a couple of less worries.”
Sam Turcotte can be contacted at