If you’re like me and you love the horror genre and, more specifically, the horror community, you have been traveling to conventions for several years throughout the United States and maybe even the world. With the increase in the popularity of conventions and the constant rise of hybrid conventions coming into existence, mixing pop culture with horror to garner a more widespread audience appeal, it’s incredibly comforting to come across a convention that owes its very existence to the message of charity and helping those who are less fortunate to receive assistance in their times of need. That convention is Scares That Care.
I recently attended Scares That Care weekend, July 21-23rd in Williamsburg, Virginia. Scares that Care began when founder and CEO Joe Ripple, former Baltimore Detective, had gone through the experience of being a pallbearer for his partner’s young child, who had passed away due to a childhood disease. Joe had always been a part of the horror community and previously ran security for Horrorfind Weekend. During this time, Joe witnessed the overwhelming, unquestionable caring and willingness to assist those in need from fans of the genre, and in that moment, the idea for Scares That Care was born. The very first event was held in 2014. Ever since, each year at the Double Tree by Hilton Hotel in Williamsburg, Va, even the staff participates in the festivities.
After many years of raising money for those in need and donating those funds to charitable organizations that would primarily help children suffering from childhood diseases, Joe Ripple and Scares That Care are now donating directly to the families in need. STC is a 501(c) Nonprofit, making it a 100% volunteer-based charity with no paid staff.
At the event, you’re likely to find an abundance of celebrity guests, vendors, and how to seminars, as well as entertaining events such as Scaryoke singing and a midnight live shadow casting of the Rocky Horror Picture Show. Some attendees and celebrities take the Scaryoke very seriously. This year, Tracie Thoms could be heard belting out tunes from the Miseducation of Lauren Hill as the crowds sang along. Kirby Bliss Blanton danced with Tyler Hall, the director of the upcoming film The Day Summer Ended. Many guests and attendees put their vocal talents on display and partied the night away, all in good taste with positive vibes and smiles from ear to ear, lasting until the early hours of the next morning.
Some of the many other things Scares that Care does is donate toys during the holidays for kids and collect items for the homeless. I saw this generosity being displayed as supporters of all kind donated items to be sold at a silent charity auction. Items included an amazing guitar signed by a legendary filmmaker George A. Romero and a Spider-Man bust signed by Stan Lee himself.
One of my personal favorite moments was Saturday night’s Costume Contest. I sat among a panel of celebrity judges to crush the dreams of cosplayers who worked so hard on their amazing costumes. I was lucky enough to be the highest bidder on an auctioned seat at the panel, where I sat next to some fantastic people: actress Kirby Bliss Blanton, a down-to-earth woman with a constant smile on her face who loved doing tongue-in-cheek impressions of the many talented celebrities she’s worked with in the past; Tracie Thoms, who was as cool as she was laid back and always gave her undivided attention; witty author Jonathan Janz, who handled the mic as if he was born with it in his hand; the somewhat reserved, observant graphic novelist Rachel Deering; and charming makeup artist Tyler Green from SYFY’s Face-Off, who taught a makeup tutorial class during the weekend. This class was attended by a good friend of mine who said, “I had a great time and learned a lot.”
Coinciding with their charity weekend, Scares that Care partner Mettle Events held a 5k race and kid trot fun run, a trick or treat procession, and an exciting Zombie Hunt, where kids could exterminate wandering zombies with Nerf guns. This year, Scares That Care raised over $23,000. In addition to supporting to their previous charities, Scares that Care has also expanded to assist women going through breast cancer and families with members who were suffering with severe burns.
In a time when horror conventions are becoming pop culture mishmash hoping to garner a more widespread audience, celebrity autograph prices are increasing exponentially and shows are hiring third party companies to do their security instead of fans and volunteers, it is nice to see a convention that has a purpose greater than the event itself. It’s important for small businesses, indie filmmakers, celebrities and all of the horror community to support such a noble cause, where everyone including the vendors themselves realize the reason that they are all there. To quote founder Joe Ripple:
“With all that is wrong with the world, for one weekend, lets be what’s right!”
Having completed their mission for the three selected families for 2017, Joe Ripple is now turning his attention to the next three Scares That Care recipients. They are searching for a child that is very sick or terminally ill as well as a woman fighting breast cancer. Families must be in need and suffering financial hardship. The selected families must agree to the terms of Scares That Care’s operational ability.
To nominate someone, send an email to – [email protected]. Please include full contact information, including phone number.