CreateAthon’s Virtual Event

After pairing up with CreateAthon’s National Organization, the Capstone Agency’s CreateAthon was born in 2017. Originally, the event started with 40 students, each dedicating 24 hours to develop and deliver advertising campaigns for 7 non-profit organizations, an estimated $27,600 in donated work. But by 2019, the event had over 90 students participating in the creation of 15 non-profit advertising campaigns, equaling $71,252.50 in donated work. 


However, this year’s event looked a little different. Instead of dozens of students occupying Reese Phifer, the Capstone Agency turned to virtual resources to ensure the event could continue as safely as possible. I spoke with the Pro Bono Director, Stephanie Cohen, to discuss how she tackled the event’s biggest threat: COVID-19. 

While interviewing Cohen, she mentioned that when she accepted the position as Pro Bono Director, she was unaware of the worldwide epidemic that would soon make an in-person event impossible. Nevertheless, Cohen and her team of advisors persisted in finding possible solutions, so that the Capstone Agency could team up with the 7 local non-profits selected by Cohen: Arts ’n Autism, Miracle League, Success by 6, Tuscaloosa International friends, the YMCA, Sweetwater Outreach, and the Parkinson Association. 


The team decided to use Zoom to conduct their non-profit advertising campaigns, as well as split the event into two days, beginning at 11 am and ending at 11 pm, rather than spend 24 consecutive hours working, as past CreateAthons have called for. Cohen noted that there were both pros and cons to the strategy. While getting a good night’s sleep was helpful to participants in finishing their campaigns, Cohen explained that the commorardy of spending 24 hours together, meeting new people and working together to achieve an end goal, felt somewhat lost over Zoom.

Regardless of the impersonalness of Zoom, the Pro Bono Director indicated she was proud that each team remained engaged throughout the entire event. Resulting in 7 completed non-profit advertising campaigns that will be presented to their respective non-profit organization throughout the following week.


Cohen mentioned that while the event itself is run by the Capstone Agency, it’s possible for any student to join in on the experience. The best way to get in on the event is by contacting the Pro Bono Director for more information.