Wake Forest to hold virtual Wake ‘N Shake dance-a-thon Saturday

For this year’s Wake ‘N Shake, a 12-hour dance marathon organized by Wake Forest students, participants will join in from places across the country instead of gathering on campus.

They will all be raising money for the Brian Piccolo Cancer Research Fund.

After checking in with dance marathon organizers at other universities facing similar challenges, consulting with experts on technology options and figuring out how to effectively fundraise online, Wake ‘N Shake 2020 leaders are putting on a virtual event April 4 from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. that will center on social media engagement with the final hour streamed live.

Wake ‘N Shake leaders agreed on this year’s format after considering several options.They planned the event while they were also making the shift to virtual classes in mid-March because of the global pandemic.

Kylie Reed (‘20), one of three Wake ‘N Shake student leaders, said initially she was disappointed over not being able to hold the event on campus. “But … now I feel like we’re in a really good space with Wake ‘N Shake,” she said.

“This will be an incredible opportunity for the Wake Forest community to come together for 12 hours during this uncertain time.” Kylie Reed (‘20)

Sponsored by the Office of Civic & Community Engagement (OCCE), Wake ‘N Shake started in 2006 with 300 dancers raising over $30,000 for the Brian Piccolo Cancer Research Fund. Last year, the dance-a-thon hosted more than 1,400 students, faculty and staff and raised a total of $431,170, said Brad Shugoll, associate director, leadership and service in the OCCE. So far 1,000 people have registered for this year’s event, and organizers expect to reach or exceed the $400,000 goal.

Wake ‘N Shake 2020 will kick off at 9 a.m. Saturday with a video message from Wake Forest
President Nathan O. Hatch and a message from Dr. Boris Pasche, director of the Comprehensive Cancer Center at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.

People can tune in by going to the Wake ‘N Shake website. Students will share videos on Instagram with #WakeNShake2020 and will tag @wfuwakenshake. Content will be shown throughout the day from Instagram and Facebook posts made by students, faculty, staff and alumni.

Student leaders Mary Britton Anderson (‘20), Felton Hatcher (‘20) and Reed have invited faculty members to participate, and from 11 a.m. to noon on Saturday faculty and staff videos will be highlighted. Wake Forest alumni will be highlighted from 4-5 p.m.

Video challenges related to various themes will be introduced throughout the day. For example, the Athletics Department will be featured at noon, and participants will be challenged to submit videos of themselves engaging in sports activities. During a 1 p.m. dance challenge, students are encouraged to submit videos sporting their best dance moves and attire. Anyone who participates in challenges using #WakeNShake2020 by 5 p.m. will be entered into a prize drawing.

“We’re excited and hopeful that this year’s event, because of its uniqueness, will unite people and tap into populations that we haven’t previously tapped into,” said Reed, a senior from Atlanta who’s majoring in health and exercise with minors in biology and neuroscience. “When students pull up Wake ‘N Shake on Facebook, we hope their parents and siblings will also watch. We also hope to reach more faculty, staff and alumni than we normally do.”

Traci Piccolo Dolby (‘89) said her family is touched by how Wake Forest continues honoring her father, a former Wake Forest All-American football player who died of cancer at age 26 while playing for the NFL’s Chicago Bears. The fund bearing his name provides discretionary money that allows the Comprehensive Cancer Center to pursue its most innovative research programs.

“We are profoundly amazed at how the Wake Forest Community continues to embrace our father and his legacy,” said Piccolo Dolby of Winnetka, Illinois, a Chicago suburb.

“The fact that events like Wake ‘N Shake are still going on and going so strong is just incredible to me and my family, and it’s really a testament to Wake, which continues to live by its Pro Humanitate motto.” Piccolo Dolby

June 16 marks the 50th anniversary of Piccolo’s passing. Instead of coming to campus to honor him during the 15th anniversary of Wake ‘N Shake, his daughter has submitted a pre-recorded message to be streamed. Piccolo Dolby, whose siblings Lori Piccolo (‘87) and Tom O’Connell (‘97) are also Wake Forest graduates, said she’s financially backing two Wake ‘N Shake student dancers and encourages others to do the same.

“If this unprecedented time has shown us anything so far, it is that people are still coming together, albeit virtually, to support one another and the causes that they feel strongly about,” Piccolo Dolby said. “Wake ‘N Shake has a tremendous support system, and I’m very confident in the students and other organizers who are running the event.”

Shugoll, Reed and Piccolo Dolby are available for interviews before April 4 or during the Wake ‘N Shake event. To arrange interviews, please contact media@wfu.edu.

Categories: Faculty, Philanthropy, Pro Humanitate, Staff, Student, Top Stories