Up ’til Dawn Campaign Most Successful in New England
Up ’til Dawn Campaign Most Successful in New England

by Dave Cranshaw
UNH Today Editor

When Ashley Rundin ’14 was preparing for college, she had one fear. It wasn’t the traditional concerns about the college workload, getting along with roommates or liking the food on campus.

After many years of volunteering with the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life in her hometown of Pawtucket, R.I., she was concerned about finding an outlet that would allow her to continue her passion of volunteering with an organization that raises money for cancer research.

UNH's Up 'til Dawn campaign was the most successful of any college or university in New England, raising more than $34,000.

“Cancer has always been a huge part of my life,” she said. “Over the years, I have lost many people in my life to the disease.”

It took a little while, but by the end of her sophomore year Rundin discovered UNH’s partnership with Up ’til Dawn, a program sponsored by St. Jude Children’s’ Research Hospital that raises money to find a cure for childhood cancer.

As a senior, she served as a co-director for the 2013-2014 campaign that raised more than $34,000, making UNH’s Up ’til Dawn campaign the most successful of any college or university in New England.

“I wanted to do everything in my power to give back to these children so they could live a long and happy life like they deserve,” said Rundin.

In the past, the Up ’til Dawn program was focused around a letter-writing campaign in which students stayed up all night writing fundraising letters. This year, all the fundraising was done online, and the finale of the program held earlier this month on campus was a celebration of a job well done. The eight-hour event began on a recent Saturday evening and continued to the following morning. Students had to raise at least $100 to participate in the event. More than 100 students participated in games and activities and made cards for the patients at St. Jude.

“This is a shining example of how dedicated our students are,” said Greg Overend, director of student activities.

The second co-director, Colby Thammavongsa ’14, said he has been fortunate to never have been directly impacted by cancer. But that doesn’t dampen his enthusiasm for the organization’s mission.

“I think that is what is so wonderful about the Up ’til Dawn movement – you don’t have to be personally affected,” said Thammavongsa, an English major who hopes to write for a nonprofit organization and serve as a regional adviser for Up ’til Dawn after graduation. “St. Jude is a place of hope and wonder, which naturally gives many individuals the urge to get involved.” 

Since the launch of the Up ‘til Dawn campaign on campus in 2008, students have raised more than $120,000, enough to pay for one month of chemotherapy for a patient at St. Jude.

Leading up to the final event this year, Up ’til Dawn raised money by sponsoring a Zombie Prom, holding a give-back night at a local Chili’s and collaborating with the Music Industry Club for an all-day music festival.

“I believe it is essential for people to be involved in community service,” said Thammavongsa. “Philanthropy offers the best kind of opportunity for one person or a group of people to help define themselves by supporting those in need.”

Donations can be made until April 1 by visiting this site.

View photos from the event

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