The annual Fred Hutch holiday gala is the cancer research center’s largest and most important fundraising event. Just before the evening’s pivotal “Raise The Paddle” segment, which solicits donation support, a video is typically played for the attendees. For the 2015 gala, we drastically changed the format of this tradition by interweaving live elements throughout the ballroom, resulting in an emotional and immersive performance experience for our audience.
This video is a “canned” version of the presentation (because YouTube can’t quite capture the drama of the live elements the same way our once-in-a-lifetime experience did that night). We placed live musicians on the stage, accompanying the video presentation. Their growing, swelling, emotional performance pulled on the heart-strings of our audience as the viola layered with the cello.
Then, Fred Hutch President, Dr. Gary Gilliland was introduced on another stage to speak live in front of the audience. this in-person approach commanded attention, and the audience fed off of his energy and passion. Celebrating Fred Hutch’s first 40 years, our script paid tribute to how far the organization has come, and then placed a firm focus on the future — establishing a clear need for support from the donors. The three survivor stories in the middle represented historical and chronological breakthroughs by Fred Hutch scientists through the first 40 years.
In the end, the emotional and dramatic presentation was a smashing success. The Fred Hutch development team expected approximately $5 million in support that evening. At the conclusion of our live performance, the donors in the room pledged nearly $7 million in support of a cure for cancer!