by Amy Buice
Everyone has their own reason for participating in Sewanee Up ‘til Dawn (UTD), a student led event that takes place each year to benefit the children of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Even those who cherish sleep manage to muster the energy to stay awake one night, which this year is March 6, for the kids of St. Jude. Throughout the night, students play games and compete against other teams to appreciate those activities that a patient at St. Jude might not be able to. The culmination of energy from tired and involved students mixed with the personal narratives, drives people to sign up for the event, making it successful.Leading up to March 6, in order to encapsulate what makes the UTD unique, Sewanee students will share their stories explaining why they are choosing to participate. Sydney Philpott (C’15), Executive Director of the event on Sewanee’s campus, is the first to share her “Up ‘til Dawn Story.” When Philpott was in high school, her boyfriend, Andy Streiff (C’15), was diagnosed with cancer. More specifically, he had acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), the most common form of childhood cancer. “It was really scary, because there was a lot of unknown starting out. You don’t really think of cancer as something that could affect you or a loved on. It seems like something abstract of yourself.” Having that personal connection is the reason she got involved.
When she came to Sewanee, she heard about Up ‘til Dawn at the activities fair and knew she wanted to contribute in some capacity. After talking to the upperclassmen in charge, she became a junior executive board member. Taking it a step further, she became recruitment director for UTD her sophomore year. After three years of being involved with the campus event, Philpott was afforded the opportunity to go to the St. Jude Leadership Conference, where students from executive boards interacted and shared their UTD expertise. “I really enjoyed seeing what the work we do all year does for the families of St. Jude and how appreciative and hopeful everyone is,” Philpott said. At the event in Memphis, she mentioned getting to meet patients and families and visit the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital firsthand. “A lot of people think of St. Jude as a place of sadness, but it is actually a very uplifting place. The patients and families do not worry about paying any bills, about what they are going to eat, or about where they are going to stay in Memphis,” Philpott said. St. Jude ensures that the only thing parents have to worry about is their child and his/her diagnosis. Even though Streiff was not treated at St. Jude, their protocol was used to treat his type of cancer. Looking back on this, Philpott said that it is pretty amazing to think about UTD’s annual contributions to the research and function of the hospital. Philpott says that being on the UTD board for the past three years has solidified her desire to support patients and continue pursuing her medical career. She hopes that more people will sign up for UTD and get equally as excited.