Health care costs in the United States are on the up, and for patients receiving prolonged treatment for life-threatening diseases, medical expenses can quickly get out of control, forcing some families to forgo further care.

St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, located in Memphis, Tennessee, believes no child should be denied treatment due to a family’s inability to pay. Because the hospital’s operations heavily rely on donations, Up ’til Dawn, a Loyola student group, is hosting a fundraiser Wednesday evening to raise awareness about the St. Jude’s mission.

From 5-11 p.m. on Wednesday, November 9, Up ’til Dawn will host its annual Letter Sending Party in the lobby of the Centennial Forum Student Union. There will be pre-written letters for people to sign, seal, and send to friends, family, and neighborhoods.

“The only thing people need to bring is a list of addresses,” says Paige Pallas, a senior advertising and public relations major and president of Up ’til Dawn. She says the postage for the envelopes is covered.

At Wednesday’s event, there will be free food, drawings for prizes, and live music. Also, anyone who fills out at least 25 letters will receive a complimentary Up ’til Dawn 2011 t-shirt.

Each year, the letter-sending fundraiser brings in about $20,000. This year, Up ’til Dawn’s fundraising goal is $25,000.

St. Jude’s daily operating cost is $1.7 million, most of which is covered by public contributions, according to the hospital’s website. Without fundraisers like the Up ’til Dawn letter sending party, St. Jude’s Hospital would not be able to provide life-saving services to thousands of children each year.

A former St. Jude’s patient will speak at Wednesday night’s event. He is a college-aged student who is now in remission, Pallas says.

Any individuals or groups interested in fundraising should sign-up beforehand online by clicking here. Registrants will need to create a username and password, then fill out the necessary information so that Up ’til Dawn can create name labels that will be added to participants’ letters in order to keep up track of the donations.

RSOs are encouraged to sign up in teams and compete against one another. Up ’til Dawn promises to buy advertising space in The Phoenix, Loyola’s student newspaper, for whichever student group raises the most money.

“Like” the Up ’til Dawn Loyola chapter’s Facebook page and follow @UpTilDawnLUC on Twitter.