For those who weren’t at prize giving I wanted to share something amazing. I have never been prouder to be a geek and part of this community.
If you didn’t know, Shelly, who keeps us wonderfully fed and healthy every ICON, supports a fantastic charity called Lory Park. For the past few years ICON donations have sponsored some of the animals in the name of the convention. This year Shelly set a donation target to sponsor four of the wild cats this year.
At prize giving while we sat in the freezing cold Shelly came up to talk about Lory Park and thank everyone for their donations; she let us know that we had raised enough money to sponsor three of the cats and this, although not the target, was still an amazing feat. (A big thank you to all the wonderful people who donated a few rands, some tens and wonderful people who donated some hundred rand notes!)
At this point someone called out and asked Shelly how much we had fallen short. The answer was R1 200,00. A large amount of money, particularly for poor gamers, especially at the end of a shopping spree at a convention (I may be poor now but was worth it!). At this point a hero emerged from the crowd as far as I’m concerned. This gentleman (Tony) walked right up to Shelly held open his wallet and told her to take it all. Shelly tried to refuse and say it was all right, but he insisted and pushed till she took it. Seeing even Grant Dixon’s eyes go wide he held up his wallet to show us what had to be at least R400-R500.
Before we could even register what had happened, another had stepped up with his own surprise donation of a few hundred rand, then another then another. Within the space of a few seconds people were passing money through the crowds, giving their last ten rand notes, handing over earnings from their work at ICON (Paul, you are awesome!) and stall owners and event organisers were pledging to donate more when prize giving was over.
Within the space of what had to be at most three minutes not only had we raised the R1 200,00 without hesitation or difficulty, we’d gone over that and raised enough to sponsor another of the animals, a spry three-legged serval. Shelly choked up (and half the audience, including me) and thanked the crowd from the bottom of her heart and prize giving continued with the auctioning of old posters to raise more money for Lori Park after the unexpected giving form the audience (another couple hundred so high five those who bid and bought the posters).
Grant Dixon then popped into let us know dinner would be a tiny bit late because Shelly was so happy and overwhelmed she needed a moment to pull herself back together. And then we lot in the tent cheered because we made Shelly cry (in a good way).
To the gamers and geeks and players and wonderful people of the ICON community, you are all made of awesome. You chose to give everything you could and did something amasing for out community, for Shelly, for the animals of Lory Park and hopefully, with the work they’re doing for future generations of geeks and gamers.
Feel proud, geeks of South Africa. You deserve it.