Author has written 26 stories for Dresden Files, Criminal Minds, Buffy: The Vampire Slayer, and Law and Order: CI.
F/49 Labtech, missionary's kid, USA vet. ('85-'88) General SF fan (books and film)
July 11 2010
We are weirdos.
It happens twice a year or so. During Farpoint (Baltimore in February) and Shoreleave (Baltimore in July) we make some sort of item for one guest to auction and autograph. The proceeds go to our charity: The Julien Fleming Memorial Fund. The science fiction community including most notably fans but also actors, writers, and artists, have been the soul of generosity for years. They often bid quite a nice amount of money for our hacked beanie baby puns. They have generously donated their time and talent too.
Many times, when I feel so cynical and bitter, sure that people are all just self centered and without compassion, I come to the convention and the fans take my breath away with the level of their generosity. So many are suffering from harsh economic times and have been for some time and still, they give their money, their time, and quite literally: their blood.
Last July we were able to do the only thing we could think of to thank them: we presented the proceeds of their good hearts to one of the guests, whose very young cousin (or grandson of his cousin...that's still a cousin, right? ) anyway, whose very young cousin has a brain tumor.
At first I was reluctant to go along with this idea, it seemed we were bragging and taking credit for the fans. But others convinced me to see it differently. Everyone deserved this. Deserved to see the impact even a small amount can make. I was glad we did it. I did not see anyone's reaction except the guest. It is rumored he never tears up on stage... HA!!
If yesterday was any indication, the impression was deep and long lasting.
Karen went onstage at the end of Mr Edward James Olmos' Q&A with this year's offering. A vision of the future. Edward James Oldmoose. I heard a lot of laughter, this one was greatly appreciated.
The opening bid was 500. I was floored. It rarely goes that high, much less starts there.
More people bid – including Mr Olmos himself. He kept egging people on to make it an even thousand but the bidding ended at 900 USD. We were ecstatic. I had been roaming through the crowd showing the little moose to everyone to prod more bids. One man stood up, announced he was going to help make it the even 1000 and handed me a 20. Someone else said “I can do that” and handed me another. Next thing I knew both I and the American Sign Language translator were being mobbed, our hands stuffed with money. I was reaching as fast as I could to take it, to go another row further and another row further to take more proffered bills. I heard someone say Karen was crying on stage. I was too stunned, too busy to absorb what was going on. I kept taking people's donations, large and small. I was being handed about every denomination of bills, even a few fifties. I couldn't even speak. I think maybe I said “Thank you.” Lord, I hope I did.
We brought the cash backstage where another guest (Robbie Greenberger's sister) Counted the money. She was weeping. It wasn't until she told me the total and I realized the immensity of what had just happened that I started crying myself.
Our generous donors had not made it an even 1000 USD. They had added 1,103 USD to the 900 USD bid for a total of 2103 USD.
People call us Trekkies, Trekkers, weirdos, or nerds and tell us to get a life. But I defy any other group “normal” people -- be it sports fans, a Church, or a platoon of soldiers – no ... not defy, challenge. I challenge those who call us nerds and weirdos and Trekkies and whatnot to get this kind of life. To be that generous in what is, for many, a time of great economic hardship. We can help each other. Our time, our imaginations, our efforts, our money, our fun, can help people who are truly in need.
Take it from a dyed in the wool weirdo, nerd, geek, trekkie.
To paraphrase J. Michael Straczynski: We can be better than we think and nobler than we know.
Regardless of race, creed, national origin, or fandom - no matter where we are on this tiny little planet:
We can make a difference. Tiny steps, small acts of kindness. Little by little and one by one. We can make things better for others.