Marist Named a Top Ten College Fundraiser by St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital
July 10, 2018 — Marist College has been named a top ten fundraising college by St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. During the 2017-18 academic year, Marist students raised more than $59,000 for the renowned Tennessee-based hospital, which offers its services for free to children with cancer.
The centerpiece of the annual effort is the Up 'Til Dawn fundraiser held each fall. Up ‘Til Dawn is a way for college students to actively participate in fundraising and connect with the mission of St. Jude. The evening acknowledges all of the hours of sleep lost by parents of children with cancer. This year 526 Marist students participated in 77 teams. In order to participate in the event, each team member must raise $100.
Marist was the smallest institution to receive the top ten designation from St. Jude and one of only two from the northeast. “Knowing that there are so many large universities involved in this event and that our small school could compete with them made me so proud,” said Casey Jaeb ’19, Executive Director of the Marist chapter. “It really just proved to me that Marist is such a special community where people truly care about making a positive impact in the world.” said Casey Jaeb ’19, Executive Director of the Marist chapter.
Ava Hanlon ’20 has been involved with the charity since her freshman year and she will be Strategy Director on the Executive Board of the Marist chapter for 2018-19. For Hanlon the mission of St. Jude has personal resonance. “Someone very close to me was diagnosed with leukemia at the age of 11; she unfortunately lost her battle in April 2017. Her diagnosis was months before my freshman year at Marist began and when I was settling into my first semester here, a friend told me about the Up 'Til Dawn event and I immediately knew I had to be involved.”
The cause runs deep at Marist. Resident Director April Bourlier ‘12/’17M was involved in the effort as both a student and an administrative advisor. "I first participated in Up 'Til Dawn during my freshman year at Marist. I was familiar with the hospital since I helped to raise money for it while in elementary school and I knew this would be the best way to keep myself involved with the organization even in college. That year the college helped to raise approximately $42,000—the most at the time in our St. Jude history,” Bourlier explained. “Giving back is embedded in the DNA of Marist.”
It was a similar trajectory for Maryellen Conway ‘07, Associate Director of the Office of Accommodation and Accessibility, who currently serves as an advisor to the Marist chapter. Conway was student government president while a student at Marist and was involved with the St. Jude fundraiser then as well. She is thrilled with how student organizers have grown the effort. “I love the mission of St. Jude,” Conway explained. “Offering services free to families in such serious need is amazing, and St. Jude doesn’t just treat the patient, they really look at the entire family, what everyone is going through in the process of dealing with a child who has cancer.”
Conway has visited the Tennessee-based hospital twice and says the visits were life-altering. She believes visiting the hospital really helps to connect student fundraisers to the work in a deeper way. “It’s a beautiful child-focused place with so much cheer despite the circumstances,” said Conway.
Jaeb agreed. She made the trip to Memphis in 2016 to attend the St. Jude Collegiate Leadership Seminar. “One thing that stood out to me about this experience was when we were getting a tour of the hospital, everyone had smiles on their faces,” she recalled. “I was also able to meet with executive board members from colleges across the country. We brainstormed ideas for recruitment and fundraising, and heard a lot about the St. Jude story from doctors, leaders, and patients.” This summer Jaeb will return to the hospital with Hanlon.
“There's just something about seeing a toddler with all their hair gone, sitting in their parent's lap, chemotherapy tubes tied in and a face mask on. It just breaks your heart and can make anyone a partner in hope,” said Bourlier. “St. Jude can give these kids the fighting chance to hopefully be healthy 18 -22 year olds like our students so that they can attend college and go off into the world.”
Director of Student Activities Bob Lynch says he and his staff are thrilled to support the Up ‘Til Dawn event every fall. “This event fulfills the college’s mission,” said Lynch. “It reminds me of the Marist Brothers and their tenet to ‘do good quietly.’”
Both Conway and Lynch note that the fundraising effort for St. Jude is a completely student-driven activity. “This is the top charitable event that takes place on campus,” said Lynch. “It’s not a club, but it involves a huge number of students and that makes me very proud.”
For Hanlon the cause is definitely a long-term commitment. “My passion to help children battling cancer has driven me to strive to find any outlet I can, to be one that has tried to make an effort in today's world of pediatric oncology, which is a career I'd like to pursue,” said Hanlon, who is majoring in biomedical sciences. “Being on the board will provide me further opportunity to support these children and the families in need.”
With that kind of commitment Marist is sure to do great things for St. Jude in the coming year.