Belmont’s Up ’til Dawn team, made up of students from across the university, attended St. Jude’s Collegiate Leadership Seminar last week and brought home three of the nine presented awards. The student group leads, plans and executes Belmont’s Up ’til Dawn fundraiser each year, an opportunity that allows students the chance to stay up all night for childhood cancer. Last year, the group raised more than $113,000 for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and has raised more than $242,000 in the three years since it was first hosted on campus.
Of the 50 schools, nationwide, that attended the seminar, Belmont was the only group to earn three awards. These awards included:
- Most Outstanding St. Jude Up ’til Dawn Event in honor of Belmont’s on-campus celebration that features creative challenges and activities while incorporating the mission of St. Jude
- The Jude Executive Director of the Year Award for last year’s Executive Director Mare Rote
- The Jude Advisor of the Year Award for Meghan Westbury, Admissions Visit Coordinator and Belmont’s Up ’til Dawn Advisor
Current Belmont Up ’til Dawn Executive Director Joe LaMartina attended the seminar, along with three other Up ’til Dawn leaders, and said that while the awards are exciting and important to his team, it’s the opportunity to impact childhood cancer across the nation that means the most. “The mission of St. Jude and the battle against childhood cancer are so much more important than any award we could win,” LaMartina said. “But it is nice to receive recognition for our hard work. I am so proud of everything the last and current boards have done to impact this important cause.”
For LaMartina, involvement in St. Jude has been life-changing, particularly as he looks towards his career. “I am somewhat unsure about what I want to do after graduation now,” LaMartina said. “I previously thought I wanted to do cancer research, but now I am leaning much more toward wanting to work for a non-profit. It would be so amazing to work for ALSAC, the fundraising organization for St. Jude, because of their amazing mission and the amazing people that work there.”
But this year’s awards aren’t the only ones the Belmont team has earned. In 2016, the leadership team won the Exceptional Recruitment Strategy award, they have presented to their peers at the past two seminars, they have recruited the most participants on National Recruitment Days for two consecutive years and they were recognized on Belmont’s campus as the Best New Student Organization in 2016 and the Best Student Organization in 2017. Additionally, with a focus on inclusivity across campus, Belmont’s Up ’til Dawn executive board members represent more than 35 student organizations.
When considering what has made Belmont’s Up ’til Dawn team so successful, LaMartina points to the Belmont student body. “Our event would be nothing without the amazing and passionate people fundraising on the front lines,” he said. “The incredible heart of the Belmont student community continues to inspire me everyday. Belmont students truly believe that no child deserves to die in the dawn of life, and they fight to make that happen through Up ’til Dawn.”