When A Con Is Used For The Social Good It Can Help Save Lives

It’s not news that celebrities care about charities. It’s not uncommon for celebrities to encourage their fans to donate or support the charities they care about. It’s not unheard of for people to volunteer without the prompting of a celebrity; in fact, one could argue that’s how all charity work gets done. It’s done by regular people before and after work or on the weekends. People without millions of dollars to spare or millions of Twitter followers to inspire. These are the heroes we should look up to, but there is no denying that celebrities and big organizations can help encourage those of us who forget how important charities are.

DragonCon is just a fan convention. Held in downtown Atlanta over the span of several days and five hotels, it’s easy to see it for what it appears to be: a gathering of fans who want to see famous people, dress up in costume, or just celebrate the stories they love. When you look closer you can see that there is much more to what DragonCon has to offer its attendees. More than 70,000 of them raised more than $100,000 for the Lymphoma Research Foundation.

DragonCon picks a charity every year for its attendees to support. This year DragonCon picked a charity that had impacted their family. According to the DragonCon website. “This year’s selection is a very personal choice, as two long-time members of the DragonCon family—Eugie Foster, Director of the Daily Dragon, and Mark Brown, Co-Director of Convention Operations—recently died from lymphoma, while a third member is currently battling it.”

Lymphoma is a group of blood cancers, most notably non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, which accounts for about 90 percent of cases. Other types include Hodgkin’s lymphoma, myeloma and immunoproliferative diseases. More than half a million people are currently living with lymphoma in the United States—the most common blood cancer in adults and the third most common cancer overall among children.

DragonCon also held a charity auction with items donated from attendees, guests, and volunteers. Items sold at past charity auctions have included books, comic books, artwork, signed photos, movie props, prop replicas, toys, games, costumes, DVD players, computers, TVs, store and restaurant gift cards, weekend getaways at hotels, visits to the live set of a TV series, a meal with an actor or writer, a writing review by an editor, inclusion (Tuckerization) in an upcoming book, and much more.

But this isn’t the only charity DragonCon workers and attendees can support. Every year DragonCon gives attendees an opportunity to “Pay It Forward” with a blood drive. LifeSouth serves more than 40 hospitals in the Atlanta area and more than 110 hospitals in Florida, Georgia, and Alabama, and every year DragonCon attendees donated thousands of units.

In 2014, the drive welcomed 3,893 donors and collected 3,292 units. This past year LifeSouth reported about 3,000 attendees registered to donate before Labor Day weekend.

DragonCon does more than just encourage guests to donate while there are in Atlanta. In 2014, “DragonCon Superheroes” was developed. This is a series of charity events that take place during the year in and around Atlanta. Last year, the DragonCon Superheroes contributed nearly 900 hours of community service in the months leading up to DragonCon. According to the DragonCon website, projects included packing and sorting food items for the Atlanta Community Food Bank, maintaining trails at Sweetwater Creek State Park, and working the Walk to End Lupus Now.  

DragonCon is more than just a convention. It’s a community and a family. So get your nerd on and cosplay and fangirl over your favorite stories like the rest of us, but don’t forget to give to a charity in need. Instead of just dressing like a hero, BE a hero.

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