Story by Bella Utley, Contributing writer
Murray State’s Up ‘til Dawn organization has raised more than half of their goal of $35,000 in honor of Alex Arnett, a freshman battling Hodgkin’s lymphoma at St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital.
According to the St. Jude Up ‘til Dawn website, students on campuses nationwide “stay up all night” during these events to raise money for kids battling cancer and other life threatening diseases.
Through this fundraising, families never receive a bill for treatment, travel, housing or food because all a family should have to worry about is helping their child live, according to the St. Jude’s Up ‘til Dawn fundraising website.
Katie Dunnavant, executive director of the Up ‘til Dawn fundraiser, said the St. Jude’s Up ‘til Dawn event has been on campus for three years.
“We just saw this opportunity to show Alex some support so we took it,” Dunnavant said.
Dunnavant said the executive board that she works with truly cares about St. Jude and helping others. Dunnavant said that work definitely goes into planning fundraisers and recruitment events, but the motivation for it all is to raise money for St. Jude.
“For students who want to get involved, they can register for our event in February and raise $100 by asking friends and family to support them in this awesome cause,” Dunnavant said.
Rachel Ross, supporter of the Up ‘til Dawn organization, has been supporting Arnett and the organization as much as possible.
“I started up my Up ‘til Dawn team along with a lot of other women from my sorority after Alex was diagnosed and sent to St. Jude,” Ross said. “I also was in the dunk booth for two days during their national recruitment week.”
Ross said she and Arnett grew up together but got closer during formal fall recruitment.
“She’s someone whose smile is contagious and genuinely cares about everyone she comes into contact with,” Ross said.
Ross is in Alpha Gamma Delta and said shirts and bracelets were made with Alpha Omicron Pi to gather support for Arnett, as well as Grace Ritchie. Ritchie was diagnosed last spring and is almost done with her treatments.
“Our hope is that through fundraising we can help her and her family make a smooth transition with changes that will come with the road ahead,” Ross said.
She said she has loved helping with the Up ‘til Dawn organization and getting the community involved.
“Too often people say they are sorry something is happening but never try to make a difference,” Ross said. “ I’m just thankful there is such a big group effort, because that’s how we are really going to make an impact.”
Anyone can donate at fundraising.stjude.org/msuracers.