News From Terre Haute, Indiana

December 14, 2012

Writing till dawn: Rose students raise money for hospital

Brian Boyce
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — Future engineers polished their writing skills amid a party raising money for America’s sick children.

Almost 600 Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology students packed into the Kahn Rooms of the Hulman Student Union building Thursday evening as the school hosted its 6th Annual Up ‘Til Dawn event on behalf of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Fundraising totals were not available that evening, but Susie Tatum, a spokeswoman for the hospital, said the efforts of years past have the Fighting Engineers leading the state.

“In the past, Rose-Hulman has raised a lot of money for St. Jude,” she said as volunteers prepared the lobby for the night’s event.

Last year’s event raised $20,635 for the Tennessee-based hospital which provides cost-free care, as well as research. Rose-Hulman currently enjoys a status as the top college in Indiana for fundraising for the organization, she and others said that evening.

Internationally recognized for its research in pediatric cancer, in 1996, Dr. Peter Doherty of St. Jude’s was the co-recipient of the Nobel Prize in physiology for his work on how the human immune system kills virus-infected cells.

Founded in 1962 by entertainer and television producer Danny Thomas, the hospital is named in honor of St. Jude Thaddeus, patron saint of hopeless causes, according to information on the organization’s website. The son of Lebanese immigrants and a devout Christian, Thomas made a vow while struggling to find work early in his career. If successful, he pledged to open a shrine dedicated to St. Jude.

Today, the facility offers care to children of any background without regard to their family’s ability to pay. Lodging and travel for the family is also provided.

“That was Danny Thomas’ dream,” Tatum said, adding the hospital spends about $1.8 million a day on operations. “We rely heavily on fundraisers.”

Rose-Hulman students were supplied with thousands of pre-printed letters explaining the group’s mission. In addition to helping mail the letters, students supplied names of potential donors.

Kristen Loyd, assistant dean of student services, said students who brought in at least five names earned a free buffet dinner, but many would choose the GUAM option, which means “Giving Up A Meal,” whereby the costs would be re-directed back to the hospital.

“For three years we’ve been their top Indiana college for fundraising,” she said, explaining the competition is not only between the colleges, but on the Rose-Hulman campus between fraternities, sororities and residence halls. “Our Greeks come out in huge numbers.”

A cotton candy machine was spinning sugar into pink fluff as popcorn was heating up on a table beside it. Senior Cory Parks, a mechanical engineering major in Lakeside Residential Hall, said the event is a great way to introduce freshmen to campus events.

“This is my second year,” he said, estimating the school’s student body to be about 2,100, meaning nearly a third would be participating that evening. The group, he said, is always trying to out-do their last year’s performance as a way of contributing. “It’s something I can do with my time.”

Brian Boyce can be reached at 812-231-4253 or brian.boyce@tribstar.com.