This year’s Wake ‘N Shake (WNS) event, a student-run 12-hour dance marathon to benefit the Brian Piccolo Cancer Fund Drive, raised a record $125,722.57 and is still in the process of collecting funds donated after the event. More than 1,300 students, faculty and staff “danced for a difference” in memory of someone they have loved who has been affected by cancer.
“Wake ‘N Shake is a product of the entire Wake Forest community coming together,” said sophomore Lucas Swenson, who chaired the event with seniors Emily Burniston and Laura Trollinger. “We dance for a loved one who has fought, or is currently fighting, cancer and think of them throughout the entire day.”
“I am proud to say this weekend was an incredible success,” said Burniston, who has been active in Wake ‘N Shake throughout her four years at Wake Forest. “I love Wake ‘N Shake for its ability to unite and bring out the best in our student body.”
This year, the WNS executive committee, made up of 20 Wake Forest students, developed new and innovative ways to broaden the event’s reach. The team implemented a mobile giving option where donors could text ‘PIC’ to 80077 and immediately contribute $10 to the cause. Through these efforts, mobile giving collected more than $3,000 for the Brian Piccolo Cancer Fund.
The team also created a Google+ Hangout, which was viewed by more than 380 people, and live-streamed the event on the Wake ‘N Shake website. This gave donors and community members a chance to be a part of the event.
In addition to raising money for cancer research, Wake ‘N Shake’s mission is to bring campus and community awareness to the disease and inspire students to make a difference.
For the past three years, Wake ‘N Shake has brought “Team Champions” to the event, community members who have fought or are currently fighting cancer. The six champions gave moving testimonials about their experiences with the disease.
“It really hits home, because you realize cancer is all around you,” said Trollinger.
The funds raised will go to Wake Forest Baptist’s Comprehensive Cancer Center, where many of the Team Champions have undergone treatment.
Students started the Brian Piccolo Cancer Research Fund in 1980 in memory of the Wake Forest All-American football player, who passed away at age 26 from cancer during his career with the Chicago Bears. In the 33 years since it began, the fund has raised more than $1 million for cancer research.