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By Antonella Pastor

A gathering of about 150 students willing to put sleep, partying and other plans aside for a good cause took place at the Joe Crowley Student Union last Saturday, March 28 at midnight and lasted until Sunday at 6 a.m.

The six-hour event, Up ‘til Dawn, is a philanthropy program that is hosted on college campuses nationwide. The event included casino games, raffle prizes, a photo booth, music, food, drinks, a scavenger hunt and many other fun activities that lasted throughout the night. In preparation of UTD, students in teams of six had to raise a minimum of $100 each in order to attend.  All proceeds went to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

UTD commemorated the work the students put into fundraising throughout the past months.

St. Jude selects universities around the country to participate in the event and this was the first year that the University of Nevada, Reno was chosen.

“There’s a lot that goes into deciding if Up ‘til Dawn is going to be successful at a university and so we were so fortunate that they were so interested in Nevada,” said Morgan Ogden, a member of the UTD executive board. “They see huge potential and know that we are going to continue to grow in the next couple years. It was really a big honor to know they were interested in our school.”

Many lives have been touched or affected by St. Jude, as the hospital serves more than 67,000 patients annually. The patients and their families’ expenses throughout their treatment are completely covered through donations and the contributions from the colleges that host UTD.

According to Ogden, UTD Nevada’s executive board hoped to raise a total of $25,000 for the hospital. The teams exceeded that amount and raised $31,738.50, a number that the event organizers said kept growing throughout the night. Cori Guidi, UTD’S director of events and logistics, said the number exceeded $32,000 as of Sunday night.

One of the event’s speakers was Alec Kolodge, a university student and past patient of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Kolodge was first diagnosed with common variable immunodeficiency when he was a child.

At the age of 9, he caught bacterial meningitis. Kolodge said it was the fourth time since his birth his parents were told he wouldn’t survive through the night. St. Jude

saved his life. Later as years went on, he was diagnosed with more illnesses, such as cancer in his throat and sinuses. He and his family had moved to Reno in 2005, and quickly realized there were no children’s hospitals in the city at the time.

“Once a month, we would pack into the car and we would drive to southern Roseville [where his doctor was], I would do an infusion, we would spend the night then drive home and we would do it all over again the next month,” Kolodge said. “These infusions have a profound effect on my health.”

Kolodge mentioned his struggles and battles throughout his life and recognized how St. Jude helped him live until today.

“Child or adult, the research that happens at St. Jude’s saves lives of people everywhere,” Kolodge said.

Kolodge shared his story on stage in front of everyone in order for the participants to see firsthand that their money can affect people directly.

“St. Jude not only helps their patients inside their walls, but also throughout the world,” Kolodge said. “As a research hospital the trials that they run are published. They don’t keep them for themselves. The money that you’ve [participants of UTD] raised goes to finding cures for children everywhere.”

Another event that took place during UTD was the shaving of the heads. A team of six men who called themselves The Bald Barons took the stage around 1 a.m. and went completely bald. For UTD, the men challenged themselves by setting out a goal of raising $2,000, and promised their donors that if they raised that amount, they would shave their heads.

The Bald Barons reached that goal in one day. After their accomplishment, the team decided to set a new goal.

“We came together as a group and kind of said, how about we increase the total to $5,000 and along with shaving our heads we would camp outside the Joe and sort of document our experience and just help promote St. Jude and the Up ‘til Dawn,” said Ziad Rashdan, a Bald Baron.

Completing the fundraising goal once again, they have decided that they would camp outside of the Joe Crowley Student Union on Monday, March 30.

“I’m a graduating senior,” Rashdan said. “I wanted a nice hair-do but I got to thinking about what the mission of this event was and realized this is a small thing that I can do that can have profound impact.”

The UTD executive board predicts that the event will grow next year and exceed the money the 2015 teams raised for St. Jude.

“We are really excited for whoever takes over next year to do it even bigger and better,” said Caden Fabbi, Up ‘til Dawn director of recruitment.

Antonella Pastor can be reached at rhernandez@sagebrush.unr.edu and on Twitter @TheSagebrush.