Wake Forest University

Witness how WFU students raised over $300,000 by taking their dance marathon hybrid and opening the doors to faculty, friends, and family who couldn't be in the room!



Each spring, Wake Forest students stay awake and on their feet for 12-straight hours for the Wake ‘N Shake Dance Marathon benefitting the Brian Piccolo Cancer Research Fund and the Comprehensive Cancer Center at Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist.

What started in 2006 with 300 dancers raising $48,000 for the Brian Piccolo Cancer Research Fund has turned into the largest student-run philanthropy at Wake Forest. In 2022, students surpassed $3 million in lifetime fundraising through Wake ‘N Shake.

In 2022, for the first time in three years, the student leadership of Wake N' Shake rallied the campus to return to an in-person dance marathon. Having to galvanize grassroots momentum was no easy task, but sure enough, over one thousand students attended to dance. But the co-chairs of the Wake N' Shake student leadership team determined to introduce a hybrid streaming option.

The vision was to invite faculty, friends, and family to remotely tune into the dance marathon and witness the student movement to raise awareness and funds for cancer research. This avenue opened up an entirely new way of engaging with a portion of the community previously unreachable!

The Wake N' Shake team collaborated with Imaginate to devise the following customized branding and uniquely-designed event space to host the virtual viewing experience with the theme of "Turning the Tide for Cancer Research!"



Imaginate worked closely with the Wake N' Shake planning committees to adequately capture the vision and brainstorm ways to generate as much possible momentum for live stream viewership. This included social media graphics, email marketing, URL sharing, and distributing QR codes for virtual registration & reminders.

Leading up to the event, the Imaginate team gave additional guidance and support to the Wake N' Shake corporate sponsorship team, seeking to showcase the sponsoring brands in the live stream as a way to thank the related institutions.

Imaginate also provided event registration and custom email reminder services—sent out in two-week, one-week, and 24-hour intervals to all registered attendees ensuring high attendance.

On top of the pre-event virtual event design, Imaginate brought an onsite A/V team equipped to capture, stream, and produce a live version of the dance marathon for a virtual audience. This took a traditional live stream view and enhanced it with multiple angles, clear audio, integration with the in-person video content, and the ability for a LIVE host to interact with the remote audience at any time.

Throughout the event, attendees could applaud, chat, and scan the onscreen codes to donate. 

Imaginate was proud to serve Wake Forest University with the following event services:

  • Customized Event Space & Platform White-Labeling
  • In-Person A/V Hybrid & Livestream Integration
  • Pre-Event Invitations, Email Reminders, & Tutorials
  • Live In-Event Help Desk
  • Donation Acquisition via CTA Buttons & QR Codes
  • Graphic Design & Video Editing Services
  • Post-Event Data Collection & Attendance Reports



Not only were individuals who were previously unable to physically attend now able to watch the dance marathon, but the increased viewership opened the door to thousands of dollars worth in additional donations!

In total, the event raised $310,838 from a total of 4,306 donors. Looking into the live stream participation, the event exceeded the virtual attendance goal by hosting well-over 300 various viewers during the day!  Of the confirmed/likely donations that came from online viewers, an estimated $17,737 was raised!

Both the student leadership and the faculty involved were profuse in their gratitude and excitement about the value the Imaginate experience added to this endeavor:

  • "From diving in with the student planning team to crafting a vision for what a virtual event can and should look like, you went the extra mile to make this weekend a success. This partnership significantly enhanced our 17th Wake 'N Shake!"
    Brad Shugoll, Assoc. Director of Service & Leadership, Wake Forest University
Stephen Burns


Contact Stephen Burns to learn more.