SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - The Slippery Rock University 2012 "Up 'til 2" campaign for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn., raised $52,096.
The total was announced Thursday at the SRU Panhellenic Council Alcohol Free Mix Off in the Smith Student Center. The announcement was made Stephanie Cohen, an elementary education major from Twinsburg, Ohio, and executive director of SRU's Up 'til 2 program.
Since 2008 SRU drives have gathered $301,767.96 from friends and relatives of SRU students to support the children's hospital.
The late-night event was hosted last November in the Aebersold Student Recreation Center. Hundreds of SRU students participated in the fun and work project that involved addressing fundraising letters to family and friends of the participants. St. Jude's provided the letters and postage. Participating students received raffle tickets for each envelop addressed.
While addressing letters, students also enjoyed games, dances and music.
Money raised by the drive supports St. Jude's mission of providing treatment for children with cancer and other diseases at no cost to their families.
Actress Marlo Thomas, daughter of Danny Thomas, comedian and television personality and former star of "Make Room for Daddy television show, now lends her support as spokesperson to the charity founded in part by her father.
Best known for her staring role on the weekly television series "That Girl," still seen in reruns on some cable channels, Thomas recently told of how her father, then a struggling actor, came to support the hospital. She said when she was born her father needed $50 to get her and her mother out of the hospital and didn't have the money.
"He took his $10 and went to church where the sermon was about St. Jude, the patron of hopeless causes. He was so struck that there was somebody who was a patron of hopeless causes that he prayed to St. Jude. He took seven of the $10 out of his pocket and put them in the collection basket and said to St. Jude, 'I need 10 times this seven.' The next day he got a phone call offering him a job to play a singing toothbrush on a radio commercial and the pay was $75. That was his first sign," she said.
"When it came time to pay back St. Jude, he thought he would do it in a way that would help kids that did not get a fair chance at health. So he put it in the South, in the first fully integrated hospital that was in Memphis, and he promised that all children could come there no matter their race or religion of if their family could pay. So all children go to St. Jude without having to pay," she said.
Thomas used his talents as a celebrity to leverage power to do good and continue to support the facility.
Marlo Thomas has written the book "Growing Up Laughing: My Story and the Story of Funny" and has produced a children's album "Free to Be You and Me," featuring songs children like and sing along, including works by Michael Jackson, Alan Alda, Diana Ross and Harry Belafonte, among others. The album is marking its 50th anniversary.
Nearly 20,000 children from the U.S. and 70 countries have been treated for various forms of cancer, sickle cell disease and pediatric HIV-AIDS at the hospital since its founding. The current cure rate stands at more than 70 percent.
Slippery Rock University is Pennsylvania's premier public residential university. Slippery Rock University provides students with a comprehensive learning experience that intentionally combines academic instruction with enhanced educational and learning opportunities that make a positive difference in their lives.