Student group, St. Jude’s search for cures

In the words of Danny Thomas, the founder of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital: “No child should die in the dawn of life.”

Up ‘Til Dawn, a Virginia Commonwealth University student service organization, each year continues Thomas’ mission by trying to ensure that children have opportunities to live and overcome their illnesses. Thus, the VCU chapter and its parent organization, St.Jude, work together to help find cures.

“We aren’t here for ourselves. We’re here for the children,” said Gabrielle Strauss, international business major and the group’s internal assistant director.

In celebration of the group’s work, Up ‘Til Dawn participants will take a “Road Trip across the United States” on April 25 in the Business School Auditorium. The event, arranged by the members of the Up ‘Til Dawn executive board of directors, features a Las Vegas theme as well as many others.

Members will greet guests in individual classrooms as well as the auditorium to share music, food and movies.

“We hope our hard work will benefit the children,” said Sabrina Taghizadeh, an English major and the corporate marketing chair of Up ‘Til Dawn.

The organization, in its third year on campus, accepts members based on their willingness to work at fund raising as well as other events throughout the community. Students interested in Up ‘Til Dawn individually raise $100 – or $600 per team for St. Jude’s Hospital, which earns them an invitation to the group’s April 25 final show.

When the group’s president, Laura Clark, attended a leadership seminar in Memphis, Tenn., the home of St. Jude hospital, she toured the facility. While there, she said she learned that the leukemia survival rate in the United States increased from 40 percent to 80 percent in the past years.

“During the seminar I had the chance to hear some of the patients speak. It was a realization of why I was doing this,” Clark said.

The VCU Up ‘Til Dawn student Web site each month spotlights a child, telling that child’s individual story and battle with an illness. This month’s spotlight honors Gabriel Gouge, a patient at St. Jude that the Web site reports as winning the battle against acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

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