Everything you need to know about fan charity Cancer Gets Lost’s massive online auction in July, including exclusive previews and an interview with co-founder Jo Garfein.
When Jo Garfein and co-founder Jared Wong first dreamed up Cancer Gets Lost in 2010, it was specifically intended for the Lost fandom, with biennial online auctions set to raise money for cancer charities.
CGL’s first charity auction took place in 2012, featuring Lost items and other collectibles from Bad Robot shows. Garfein recalls being astonished at their success: the auction raised almost $60,000, which was donated to the National Brain Tumor Society.
The idea to combine fan passion with charity work stemmed from Garfein’s belief that, at the core of fandom, is a tremendous amount of love and a desire to give back.
“I strongly believe in hope, and that a majority of human beings genuinely desire to help others,” says Garfein, whose personal motto is ‘choose kindness.’
“There is a great deal of heart at the center of most online fan communities, across all genres. Fan toxicity makes the headlines, but the majority of true fans tend to be quieter and tremendously supportive of fellow humans in fandom.”
Clearly, the desire to do good cannot be contained to one single fandom. Over the past five years, CGL has expanded to become a multi-fandom charity, and has raised and donated over $200K in auction proceeds to various cancer charities.
And on July 1, 2018, at the auspicious time of 8:15am PDT, CGL is opening its virtual doors to its biggest online auction yet, with all net proceeds benefiting the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.
The auction boasts a whooping 400+ items, from 120+ different fandoms, including but not limited to Harry Potter, Game of Thrones, The 100, Wynonna Earp, Westworld, Supernatural, Marvel and Agent Carter .
And, of course, there is still plenty of Lost memorabilia, including an authentic costume piece, DHARMA props and much more.
Fans of The 100 can find such amazing, unique pieces as a replica Flame prop and beautiful (signed!) custom Funko POPs, signed scripts and fan art, a crew jacket, a delinquent wristband, and exclusive cast gifts.
Other highlights include a Peggy Carter hat, a Fringe Observer hat, an American Horror Story doll, a San Junipero art print, a Game of Thrones apothecary box, a Twin Peaks log pillow, The Leftovers tupperware, an Apollo candy bar, a signed Anna Kendrick book, and so, so many Funkos.
The ability to channel fandom passion into charitable endeavors, and provide an outlet through which fans can do good while celebrating the things they love, has made Garfein a truly unique and remarkable voice in every fandom she frequents.
Cancer Gets Lost is not Garfein’s actual job, nor does she make any money doing it, with 100% of the net proceeds of every auction going to charity. But the joy of giving back and sparking fandom kindness and positivity is evidently reward enough: as their biggest ever online auction approaches, Garfein considers CGL “the greatest joy of my life, and the most rewarding journey.”
Says Garfein, “it is an honor to be able to run Cancer Gets Lost, to fundraise for cancer organizations close to my heart, and to interact with the loveliest fans from a wide variety of fandoms and countries. I just want to take this opportunity to give you all a shout-out of gratitude. CGL exists because of your kindness! Our hearts thank yours. We appreciate your interest in our online charity auction, and support of Cancer Gets Lost!”
With the auction opening in just over a week, fans might want to begin preparing themselves for which items to bid on, or tell their friends about items they might be interested in.
Hypable is therefore proud to present an exclusive first look at the entire auction, available in preview mode! (Note that it currently says ‘No Online Bidding For This Item,’ and you will only be able to start bidding once the auction opens.)
All 400+ items are visible, and right away, the sheer quantity and quality should be obvious. There is something for every fan, and almost everything is signed.
The auction opens on July 1, at 8:15am PDT, and ends on July 11. As with previous auctions, you can place a bid for any item at any time until the auction closes. You will not be charged if you don’t ‘win’ the item you were bidding on, but you will be charged (and receive the item!) if your bid is the highest at the time of closing.
What are you gonna bid on?!
Q&A with Cancer Gets Lost co-founder Jo Garfein
Image credit: Kate Trish
Hypable: As the name implies, Cancer Gets Lost started as a Lost fandom-specific charity, and has later evolved to be multi-fandom. What initially inspired you connect the Lost fandom and charity in this way?
Jo Garfein: I started out as a moderately successful Lost blogger with a spoiler-free theory site when the show was airing in the late 2000s. Through that experience, I connected with an array of wonderful fans across the globe, entirely thanks to early social media.
My very first foray into fan interaction and feedback was on MySpace! That is where my blog posts were shared across a vast online fan community that I never knew existed. And then when I joined Facebook in 2008, I noticed that a few Lost cast and crew had friend-requested me because they were reading my analysis after each episode of the show. Such a lovely discovery!
Many of us then became friendly and I started attending charity events in LA, where we interacted in person and I got a glimpse at the intersection of pop culture and philanthropy. The seed was planted! And the Lost fan community continues to be 100% supportive of CGL. Pre-Twitter, being a Lost fan when the show was airing was a great joy; six years and seasons of magic in a bottle, in terms of overall fan experience! I have never witnessed nor been on the receiving end of any toxicity from this particular fandom.
The Lost cast, crew and creative team are also some of the nicest humans on the planet, and they continue to donate items to CGL auctions from their latest projects. We consider ourselves very lucky to continue being a part of the Lost fandom and legacy!
In your words, why is fandom and charity such a good fit? What do you think inspires so many people passionate about entertainment media to give back through initiatives like CGL?
Modern pop culture fans are very active online, and therefore exposed to myriad opportunities to give back. Their favorite entertainers tend to promote specific causes that either they’ve never heard of or are close to their hearts.
And because a specific charitable endeavor means the world to the person they admire the most, they are inspired to help them make a difference. These heartwarming gestures are actually noticed and appreciated by those encouraging their fans, even if they don’t have the time to like every tweet in response.
When it comes to CGL, because cancer really does touch the lives of almost everyone, fans and entertainers alike have been eager to assist our fundraising in any way they can. Now that CGL has been established for several years, and after hosting many successful charity auctions — our reputation and name recognition has really increased. That level of trust and support makes our job easier, in terms of auction item acquisitions and autographs!
What does it mean to you to see how involved fans and industry professionals get with CGL?
I am floored by the rate at which items are donated to CGL now! I receive an email or tweet about donating items at least 1-2 days per week. In the beginning, we bought and donated many of the auction items ourselves, or politely asked online if anyone had items to donate. We no longer have to do either, thanks to the unbelievable generosity of fans and actors/writers/producers alike!
The sheer amount of time that fans dedicate to creating beautiful fan art or to standing in hours of long lines to get items signed at cons for CGL is incredible. We always make sure to credit the artists and also tag the kind humans in the entertainment industry that donated items or autographs. Honestly, it still makes our day every time a fan, tagged artist or actor re-tweets one of our promotional auction tweets!
How do you select the charities the proceeds benefit?
Sadly, most of the time we select a cancer charity to receive our proceeds because someone in our lives has a specific type of cancer. My beloved mother-in-law, who was like a second mother to me for 20 years, recently passed away after a 4 year battle with pancreatic cancer.
So we designated the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network to receive 100% of the net proceeds from our 2018 online auction, in her honor. Net proceeds mean that every cent raised, after we pay our vendors, will be donated to PanCAN!
Greetings from @conageddon in Boston! @MisElizaJane & I really appreciate your support of @CancerGetsLOST and the CGL #Conageddon charity auction (open online now for fans around the globe)! ❤️ https://t.co/Jgjzs3djsU pic.twitter.com/lhyzFdPAPA
— Jo Garfein (@jopinionated) March 17, 2018
Over the years, CGL has focused a lot on The 100 fandom, and you’ve hosted several live auctions at The 100-specific conventions and become very involved with the cast and crew through your work. What attracted you to The 100, and how did you begin channeling CGL into this particular fandom?
For a brief time a few years ago, I dedicated some time to freelance writing and podcasting, particularly when I caught up with The 100 and became a huge fan of the show. Side note: I no longer write or podcast about the show for two reasons: lack of time, and because I’m far too close to them to be objective!
Anyway, as it turned out, a few of my friends happened to be on the writing staff of The 100. So I would visit their office when I was in town for CGL meetings, and quickly became friendly with many others on the cast and crew.
The 100 fandom is a very large, global phenomenon, and CGL’s The 100-specific charity auctions have raised such an impressive amount of money for various cancer charities! I am forever grateful for the kindness and positive intent of The 100 fans that continue to support CGL via their item donations, re-tweets and general support.
And of course, the wonderful friendships formed in the process of running CGL are an absolute gift. It is no secret that Eliza Taylor and I are very good friends. We met at Comic-Con years ago and bonded immediately over our shared interest in channeling fans toward the greater good with the non-profit work that we each do in our spare time.
Eliza proudly owns a non-profit school in Thailand, and her genuine desire to enrich the lives of those children is spectacular. I am endlessly inspired by Eliza’s drive, with regard to both her career and philanthropic endeavors. That woman has a heart the size of Australia, and we have the most amazing conversations about positive energy and intent in modern fandom.
What is the most surprising/unexpected item that has been donated to The CGL 2018 Charity Auction?
A long Lost fan friend donated his very rare, hand-numbered Stephen King-signed first edition hardcover copy of Firestarter to CGL for our 2018 charity auction (and it includes a framed limited edition art print of the cover)! This set sells for over $1,000 online these days, so we are honored to feature an item of this magnitude in our auction and look forward to seeing how much it might raise for the cause!
Do you have any fun or interesting stories to share about any of the pieces or how they were donated to this auction?
At WonderCon in March, I spoke on the fantastic non-profit Pop Culture Hero Coalition panel with and for my friend Chase Masterson, on behalf of CGL. After the panel, sweet Anthony Mendez (the Narrator on Jane the Virgin) introduced himself because he wanted to donate his original voiceover microphone to CGL for our charity auction!
We had never met, but he was inspired by what he heard about our cancer fundraising initiatives and decided to sign and donate his beloved mic (which he used during his Emmy-nominated first season of Jane)! I never would have thought to look for or include an item like this, but it is so unique and cool that we are thrilled to feature it in our charity auction next month!
If you were going to bid on any one item in this auction, which would it be and why?
There are custom Westworld art prints of Dolores and Maeve that a very kind fan commissioned specifically for our auction. The artist is Kate Trish, and her art is stunning! Westworld is currently my favorite show, and I am a huge fan of these characters and auction items.
Looking back at when you first launched CGL: if you could give yourself one piece of advice, knowing what you know now, what would it be?
I would advise myself to improve upon management of my expectations and time! I have a much stronger sense now about what type of items will do well in charity auctions, how much money we can potentially raise every two years with major online auctions and how much time it truly takes to build an auction of this size.
Also, I would remind myself to adapt along with the technology and media. While I used to dedicate a great deal of time to crafting promotional newsletters and website updates, it is now far more efficient and effective to get our messaging out via Twitter, Facebook and Instagram!
Over 50% of the items donated to CGL are through and because of Twitter alone. That is where most reach out to us, and where the word-of-mouth has benefited CGL greatly; Twitter is now our primary marketing platform!
Your motto is ‘choose kindness,’ and you are always encouraging fans on Twitter to channel their passion for the greater good. How do you do that? And what is your advice for other fans wanting to make social media a more positive space?
For me, CGL serves as a constant reminder that, despite what is going on in the world, kindness exists across the globe. Positive intent fuels every aspect of my charitable endeavors, and as I get older I try to live my life in the same way.
I am human and flawed, and have made errors in judgment on social media in the past that I regret. But that is why I am thankful to have CGL. It keeps me grounded, and focused on the ultimate goal: to channel fans toward the greater good, and in the process raise as money as I can for cancer charities.
I try to lead by example, and encourage other fans to do so! Genuine passion and intent opens doors, hearts and minds. Choosing kindness is always the best option if possible, online and in real life.
If fans want to donate items to future auctions, what should they do?
Cancer Gets Lost is always so grateful for item donations, and we are open to almost anything in the pop culture zeitgeist. If fans are interested in donating something for a future CGL charity auction, they can simply email us or tweet us, and we can DM with details.