Dragon Con Superheroes
We are pleased to announce the creation of Dragon Con Superheroes, a community service project team for our members, volunteers, and staff. After seeing the amazing impact of the funds raised each year throughout the convention, we are excited to expand our charity efforts to include several projects in and around the Atlanta area each year. On top of the incredible generosity of our members, the community is strong and loves a good reason to get together outside of Labor Day weekend and we couldn’t think of a better way to do so!
In celebration of our Superheroes’ contributions to the community, we will host an exclusive celebration during the 2014 convention. Additionally, all Dragon Con Superheroes participating in this year’s projects will receive a free Superheroes t-shirt.
DRAGON CON SUPERHEROES SAVE THE DAY AT SWEETWATER CREEK STATE PARK
On a crystalline Saturday morning, more than 75 volunteers and leaders turned out for the inaugural Dragon Con Superheroes community service project at Sweetwater Creek State Park, which was organized in partnership with Georgia Conservancy.
The Superheroes community service program was created to give Dragon Con members a chance to get together outside of Labor Day while making a difference in the community. This was the first of four projects planned for 2014.
Future projects will benefit the Atlanta Community Food Bank, this year’s official charity, The Walk to End Lupus, and a fourth organization closer to the convention.
“Dragon Con people are a family,” Rachel Reeves, convention co-chair, said. “This was just a terrific opportunity to bring the family together to have some fun and give back to the metro area that gives us all so much.”
Located about 20 minutes from the Hyatt Regency Atlanta, Sweetwater Creek attracts thousands of visitors each weekend to stroll the trails that wind through forests and fields, along the park’s namesake river and past the ruins of an antebellum textile mill. It is one of the state’s busiest parks and needs constant attention to keep the trails and facilities in good condition.
Divided into nine teams, the volunteers dug, wiped, picked, scraped, gathered, brushed, broomed, hammered, and otherwise helped maintain the trails. Within three hours, the volunteers had installed three trail map kiosks, gave a good Spring Cleaning to the Visitor Center and seven picnic shelters, and maintained 9 miles of trail and six miles of river.
The trail crews hauled in six bags of trash, while the river crews brought in 14 bags, plus several plastic buckets, a tire and enough footballs, softballs, whiffle balls, and tennis balls to sponsor an elementary school.
All told, the group delivered over 225 service hours while Dragon Con Inc. donated $1,000 to purchase the materials for the map kiosks. And for their efforts, the volunteers and leaders were rewarded with a BBQ lunch, supplied by Greater Good BBQ and a variety of pies from the Pie Shoppe.
Sweetwater Creek State Park is also the place of the Georgia Conservancy’s founding and first conservation victories. In 1967, a group of individuals met to hike along Sweetwater Creek to create the conservancy and protect the state’s natural resources, beginning with the land beneath their feet.
“It was a great pleasure to host the first ever Dragon Con Superhero Service Day (da-da-da-daa!) at a park we consider a hallmark achievement for the Georgia Conservancy and the site of our creation,” said Bryan Schroeder, the Conservancy’s director of stewardship and outreach. “We are grateful for the opportunity to be an official charity of Dragon Con in 2013 and we look forward to future partnerships and endeavors with "The Con" in 2014 and beyond.”
In addition to the staff at Georgia Conservancy, Georgia State Parks Volunteer Coordinator Nyleta Wallace and the staff at Sweetwater Creek State Park helped make the day a success.
Fast Facts -
- Over 75 volunteers and leaders
- 9 miles of trail serviced
- 2 miles of river cleaned and cleared of debris
- 3 trail map kiosks installed in key areas of the park
- 7 shelters / pavilion areas thoroughly de-cobwebbed, cleaned and scrubbed
- 1 thorough scrubbing of the Visitors Center's displays, glass and exhibits
- Three trays of Greater Good BBQ and 11 Pie Shop pies devoured
DRAGON CON SUPERHEROES GATHER TO HELP DEFEAT THE CRUEL MYSTERY OF LUPUS
Two teams of Dragon Con Superheroes went the distance for the Walk to End Lupus Now, the signature fundraiser for the Lupus Foundation of America.
One team of 44 Superheroes walked the one-mile course at Piedmont Park on April 26th while the other, some of whom were dressed in costume, worked the final water station and greeted walkers as they crossed the finish line in Dragon Con style. In all, the Dragon Con Superheroes, some 44 individuals who raised nearly $11,000 for the Lupus Foundation, ranked in the top 5 teams in terms of money raised.
Lupus, which occurs when the immune system attacks normal, healthy tissues in the body, is nicknamed the Cruel Mystery because its symptoms mimic arthritis and can be difficult to diagnose. Nine out of 10 lupus sufferers are women. Though there is no cure for the disease, it can be controlled.
The Lupus Foundation is devoted to finding a cure for the chronic disease while giving caring support to those who suffer from its brutal impact.
The Superheroes community service program taps into the naturally giving nature of Dragon Con members and fans, creating opportunities to get together outside of Labor Day while making a difference in the community.
“Each project is guaranteed to be a great time for a great cause,” Reeves said. “It may sound cliché, but I one-hundred percent believe it: Helping others in the community is absolutely addictive. You cannot imagine how great you feel afterwards.”
DRAGON CON GOES TO THE FOOD BANK
Dragon Con Superheroes were at it again this week, lending a hand at the Atlanta Community Food Bank and helping power a food supply chain that leads to the hungry and homeless around metro Atlanta and North Georgia.
Some 115 Superheroes, roughly split into equal shifts – 60 in the morning and 55 in the afternoon – inspected, sorted and packed almost 29,000 pounds of food, which is enough to serve about 24,400 meals. All the while, they danced to a soundtrack straight off MTV’s early 80s heyday blaring through the warehouse speakers.
Dragon Con created the Superheroes community service program to give members and fans a chance to get together outside of Labor Day and make a difference in the community at the same time. In March, about 75 people turned out for a trail maintenance project at Sweetwater Creek State Park and some 40 Superheroes participated last month in the Walk to End Lupus.
The event at the Atlanta Community Food Bank was also a great way for Dragon Con’s members and fans to learn more about the organization that is Dragon Con’s official charity for 2014. With funds raised through charity auctions and other events, plus a Dragon Con match of up to $50,000, Dragon Con hopes to donate $100,000 to the Atlanta Community Food Bank this fall.
“Spending a day at the food bank has given a lot of our members and fans a chance to learn, first hand, what a great organization this really is,” said Rachel Reeves, convention co-chair. “We made a difference today and learned more about our community at the same time. It’s hard to put a price on that.”
Atlanta Community Food Bank gives a second life to the unsaleable food items – dented cans, for instance – and the things families donate to their local food drive. These items arrive at the food bank’s Produce Rescue Center by the tractor trailer load, 100,000 pounds at a time.
Once in the door, the process is simple. After a little training to identify usable food items and how to classify them – peanut butter is food, but jelly is a condiment – the volunteers head out to the warehouse floor. The children and other light volunteers climb into big boxes to unload the food items, passing them to a large crew of inspectors, who are looking for items that can be rescued.
The unusable items are set aside and the good ones are handed over to a second crew who sorts them by category – food, condiments, toiletries, beverages, etc. – and packs them into boxes. Boxes are weighed and stacked, ready for shipping to one of some 600 agencies across the metro Atlanta area and North Georgia. These organizations include food pantries that distribute the food to families or sheltering agencies that provide meals to the hungry and homeless.
According to the food bank, it’s not hard to put the food back into the community. One out of every five Georgians is food insecure, meaning they don’t know where their next meal comes from.