Editorial: GalaCon 2013: The Hugs and Charity Report

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First a disclaimer: It was Friday morning; I was still at home; my luggage struggled against the constraints of bag, backpack, and suitcase like a business of young ferrets smuggled in a bilby’s pouch; and I still imagined I would see enough of GalaCon 2013 to write an insightful report like Gendid’s. As it is, you’ll have to put up with this limited account of hugs, charity, and one purposeful omission.

If you attended GalaCon and would like to contribute your account of a panel, a reunion with friends, or any other experience you relished, please feel free to augment this report with your comment. Otherwise do what I’ll do too, subscribe to Ponyville Live, and watch the panel recordings as they come out. What is also going to come out are the interviews with the guests of honor, a collaboration between Derpy Hooves News and Ponyville Live—which is to say that I helped a little with the questions, and everything else is the work of Sleepypony and his team.

Late Friday evening I reached the venue after an eight-hour bus ride plus some minor commutery. It was a lot like reaching one of those doors in an old Super Mario game that said “goal” on top in a slightly pixely font. When you entered, you’d find yourself in a room with a little game of chance that might award you a mushroom or a strawberry. In my case it was a veggie burger. Many thanks, Hunoldo; I needed it!

I also gained a new life, that of the convention charity liaison and representative for Bronies for Good and Your Siblings. As a side effect, my body conveniently forgot to get hungry for the rest of the weekend.

On Saturday morning, Perry asked me to introduce our charity program to the attendees during the opening ceremonies as part of the introductions of the guests of honor. Thus waiting for my turn in the backstage area, I couldn’t help but exploit my opportune position to hug people, in particular all five show guests. Whee!

What I summarized on stage a few minutes later was a more nervous version of the roughly seven points that I would proceed to explain throughout both days to hundreds of attendees:

  1. As representative of Bronies for Good and Your Siblings, I accepted donations for a preview the Seeds of Kindness 3 fundraiser
  2. Donations to this fundraiser first benefit an orphanage project in Uganda and then a project that supports street children in Burundi
  3. Your Siblings forwards these donations in full, so that every cent donated reaches the projects
  4. As thank you for the donors, we had various Bronies for Good buttons, Ultra Pro playmats, Equestrian coins, GalaCon posters and postcards, and later even art that artists had spontaneously drawn at the booth to add it to the donation incentives
  5. Moreover, donors had the chance
    1. To preorder our upcoming charity album A Beautiful Heart
    2. To join our blood donation pledge drive Nurse Redheart’s Roundup
    3. And finally, to write letters to our projects.

Unfortunately I had learned the day before—while sharing a copy of Friendship is Witchcraft 9, because we had no fast-enough Internet access—that due to a lack of guards and some rescheduling to compensate for it, Yeti, my help at the charity booth, was needed in the main hall most of the time, so apart from a few breaks to scour the vendor booths for a pullover and other unavoidable activities during which Sand subbed for me, the above list is a comprehensive account of most of my Saturday and Sunday—and it was so worth it! The donations at the charity booth alone went a long way in funding the outstanding needs of Another Hope that still kept them from moving into their new and almost complete orphanage building.

What provided the greatest push, however, was of course the charity auction. At first I sat uncomfortably central on the stage but soon had the idea to arrange for the guests of honor to take the front row, so I could retreat to the back where JayJay protocolled the winning bids. Ponyville Live (subscribe to them!) will soon upload the proper recording of the event, but until then, enjoy Peter New in hugging vestments (different perspective), a Fluttershy cute-off between Andrea and Anneli (different perspective), and Andrea’s vocal cover of Hush Now, Quiet Now. Throughout the remaining several hours of the auction, I did what I do professionally anyway and solved some backend problems of the auction, while Perry ensnared the attendees with her silver tongue, when, for example, an opened Fanta bottle sold for €60 or the signed GalaCon 2013 banner went for €1,100.

All in all, more than €14,000 went to the good cause, fully funding the expansion of the Ugandan orphanage and mostly funding one of their auxiliary project, a guest house on the same site that will afford them more income to take care of such expenditures are the children’s school fees and medical care.

The subsequent closing ceremonies concluded GalaCon, sadly, but the influence of the convention will be felt for a long time—indefinitely even, barring major disasters, as the nonprofits that Your Siblings supports are entirely independent, an independence that their new projects will bolster while allowing them to extend their altruism to a greater number of children.

Oh, and the purposeful omission was just something funny someone said that made my weekend. Don’t worry ’bout it.

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