MONTROSE, N.Y. – The Hendrick Hudson Leos will kick-off its Stay-Awake-a-Thon Wednesday with an information and sign up night in the Hendrick Hudson High School Auditorium.
The Stay-Awake-a-Thon raised $50,000 last year to donate to area cancer funds and brought survivors and fighters together to share their stories. Participants raise money through both flat donations and donations dependent on how long they stay awake.
“Kids, when they get excited about something, the message becomes contagious. And one of the girls on the cheerleading team raised $2,000 by herself," said Debbie Costello, advisor for the Hendrick Hudson Leos, an arm of the Lions Club for high school students. "They tell their families they tell their friends.”
Costello said the Stay-Awake-a-Thon is a “community event,” which brings cancer survivors and those currently fighting together.
“Last year, amazingly, we had two high school students who had cancer. They both knew there was another student in the high school who had cancer, but they didn’t know what kind of cancer they had or what kind of treatment,” she said.
When one of the students spoke at the event’s opening ceremony, the other student discovered they had the same kind of cancer, and were undergoing the same treatment.
“So the families were able to get together and talk about the doctor they have and the kind of treatment they’re going through,” she said.
The event drew 600 people last year and $25,000 was donated to the Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital. Another $25,000 was given to a community cancer fund, which provides financial assistance to those who have been diagnosed with cancer in the Hendrick Hudson community.
Organizers hope to draw 700 people this year and raise $60,000 for the Hudson Valley Hospital Center’s new stand-alone Cancer Center and Happiness is Camping, a summer camp for children with cancer.
Although most donations are collected before the event, the night of the Stay-Awake-a-Thon usually raises between $15,000 and $20,000 through various activities. Teams sell coffee, t-shirts or entry to activities like karaoke.