Students at the University of Montana have raised more than $25,000 for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital this year, and they plan on staying up all night this Friday to honor the kids they’re helping.

St. Jude Up ‘Til Dawn at UM recruited 175 students to help with this year’s fundraiser. Last month, the local teams had raised $15,000 toward their goal, but have since increased the donations to more than $25,371.

“The students are getting attracted to it and it’s a ton of fun,” said Miranda Fox, executive director of UM’s Up ‘Til Dawn. “Our goal is to raise $37,742 – the exact cost for an above-the-knee prosthesis.”

A fellow student recruited Fox to the team last year. After traveling to St. Jude in Memphis, Tennessee, Fox visited St. Patrick Hospital in Missoula, which has adopted several St. Jude cancer treatments.

While at the Missoula hospital, Fox met a mother and daughter. The girl was recovering from cancer and wasn’t but a few years younger than Fox.

“It made the impact real,” Fox said of meeting the girl. “She said it was groups like ours who are making a difference.”

Motivated by the reality of the cause and the impact of their work, the students reached out to others across campus earlier this year. They spoke to classes and clubs and approached anyone willing to listen.

This year’s fundraiser already has raised more than double that of last year, placing UM seventh nationally among the 89 schools that participate, and first among schools in the Northwest.

“One of our big goals was to throw the communication out across campus,” said Fox. “We hope to walk up to any student anywhere on campus and ask them if they’ve heard of the event. We’re hoping this continues to double and grow in the years ahead.”

St. Jude spends roughly $1.8 million every day providing pediatric cancer treatment and research. Much of that work relies upon donations, part of which provides housing for children and their families at no cost during treatment.

“For me, it’s encouraging to see my peers getting excited and being ignited with passion for a cause like this,” said Rylie Moore, a member of the student board. “I have found that every participant has a different reason for joining the program, but all of our reasons can be summarized by the desire to give back and help provide to a family that might not find it anywhere else but St. Jude.”

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