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Students stay 'Up 'til Dawn' for St. Jude

UTDCameron Mooney is 4 years old. He is like most 4-year-olds in that he loves candy, rolling around on the floor, and being constantly in motion. But one thing makes Cameron different from most children his age: he has already battled cancer.

Cameron, from Bluffton, Ohio, was a patient at St. Jude Children's Hospital in Memphis, Tenn., where he was treated for acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

He is currently in remission, and came - along with his mother Tonya - to Ohio Northern on Jan. 30 to celebrate ONU's 2009 Up ‘til Dawn finale event. Up ‘til Dawn is an annual event that raises money for St. Jude.

"It's like no other hospital in the world," Tonya Mooney said of St. Jude. The hospital provides its services for free, and covers all costs for patients - from treatment to travel. St. Jude is also know for its cancer research, and the money raised through Up ‘til Dawn efforts across the country each year goes to fund both treatment and research at the hospital.

At ONU, student teams representing various campus organizations gathered during fall quarter to write 50 letters each to friends and family, asking them to make donations to the hospital. Nearly 5,400 letters were mailed.

Wing-eating contestOn Jan. 30, students who participated - and some who were just curious - gathered in the King Horn North Gym from 8 p.m. to midnight to celebrate the money raised. More than 100 people attended the event, which included inflatables, a mechanical bull, Rock Band, Twister, a wing-eating contest, and free pizza, popcorn and drinks.

ONU's President Kendall L. Baker spoke at the beginning of the event, expressing how proud he was of the ONU community and its Up ‘til Dawn efforts. But it wasn't until midnight that the final amount raised was announced.

At midnight, 10 members of the Up ‘til Dawn executive board gathered at one end of the gym with posters - each with one number, dollar sign, comma or decimal point printed on them. One by one, the students lifted the posters, revealing the total amount: $31,434.57.

Cameron gets balloons"We've raised a lot of money, especially for a smaller campus and especially compared to schools in the area," LeeAnne Sipe, advisor for ONU's Up ‘til Dawn, said.

Heather Karkalik, a junior biology major from Lorain, Ohio, and a member of the event's executive board, thought the time and effort students put in was well worth it. "It's such an amazing cause," she said in a Feb. 2 article in the Northern Review. "We get to raise money for kids who need it."

Kenny Ruth, a junior marketing major from Greenfield, Ohio, and also a member of the executive board, agreed with Karkalik.

"It touched a part of me that I never really had before... that I could do something to help children," he said.

This was Ohio Northern's second year participating in Up ‘til Dawn. The total amount raised by the university for St. Jude in the past two years exceeds $70,000, and plans are already being made for next school year's fundraising.