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By Denise Gary
Photographs © Bruce Matsunaga, Robert Gary, Carl Wagner, and Denise Gary
It is always difficult to express the importance of Kids Need to Read’s annual involvement in Phoenix Comicon to our overall year. Not only is the KNTR Geek Prom, sponsored by Bookmans and hosted at Phoenix Comicon, our largest fundraiser of the year but we develop a deep well of vital support in the local community by the large presence the convention provides to our organization. I am not overstating by saying when it comes to charitable support of a nonprofit, Kids Need to Read enjoys the most vocal and expansive patronage of any pop culture convention in this country through the generous sponsorship of Phoenix Comicon. Matt Solberg, the convention’s founder and director, places integrity and the welfare of Kids Need to Read as top priority. Throughout the Memorial Day weekend, Kids Need to Read raised nearly $27,000 during the event. There were so many kind individuals and groups who enthusiastically contributed to the success of the weekend and to all of them, we extend our deepest gratitude.
All of us at Kids Need to Read had more fun than ever before on the convention floor! There were so many exciting things happening in the KNTR booth, along with several geek-tacular fundraisers sponsored by supportive costuming groups. Along with the KNTR Build-a-Book program presented three times daily in the booth by author/illustrator Steven Riley, there were goodie backpacks (sponsored by Bookmans) and Little Ty Cooney books for kids, Highlights and Highlights High Five magazines, Cricket and Cicada magazines, Star Wars bounty hunts and photos and raffles, Justice League Arizona “Arkham Escape” game, Phoenix Comicon Charity Art Auction, Phoenix Comicon Charity Poker Tournament, Project Hero raffle, Anarchy Squared Creations raffle, Arizona Browncoats panel, space blinkies and buttons, Geeksages, fine art prints, t-shirts, calendars, and lots of big smiles! Fun and passion is always the KNTR way, and our staff, volunteers, and supporters were brimming with enthusiasm. It was AWESOME!
The Kids Need to Read Geek Prom was our most successful yet. There were so many zany happenings, it required a separate blog all its own. The event has evolved mightily from our first in 2010. Effusive, overflowing thanks go to Lori Cothrun and everyone at Bookmans Entertainment Exchange for continually supporting Kids Need to Read and your local communities! We are ever grateful for your generous sponsorship.
Another event that required its own separate blog was the enormously successful KNTR Build-a-Book program taking place in our booth three times daily. The creative sessions, led by author/illustrator Steven Riley, were filled with laughing children learning how to develop characters and plots in a highly entertaining program. All participants received a Kids Need to Read goodie backpack, sponsored by Bookmans and filled with one of Steven’s Little Ty Cooney books, space goodies, and magazines donated by Highlights for Children and Carus Publishing. Thank you so much, Steven Riley, for being such an important part of the Kids Need to Read family!
In addition to selling shiny, blinky Geek Prom paraphanalia . . .
. . . Kids Need to Read was proud to present fine art prints contributed by artists Jackie Morris, Steven Riley, and Tony Parker, as well as the KNTR 2013 wall calendar. We also introduced our own line of t-shirts, which are of much higher quality than the KNTR shirts previously sold on CafePress. These items are currently available in the Kids Need to Read eBay Store.
The returning Riley girls worked the KNTR booth like pros, and they were joined by the Goldman kids. We always enjoy including kids in our activities.
Kids who visited our booth received “Take Me to Your Reader” buttons, designed by Steven Riley . . .
. . . as well as Highlights, Highlights High Five, Cricket, or Cicada magazines, depending upon their age.
There were several interviews, including this one with FOX 10 News . . .
. . . and this one with Nerdgasm.
I was honored to be included as a panelist on the Fans Giving Back panel, along with Lori Cothrun (Bookmans), Shelby McBride (Arizona Browncoats) . . .
. . . and Stitch!
Phoenix Comicon held a charity art auction, which benefited KNTR in part. This was the second year KNTR benefited mightily from the art auction and we are so grateful to the many enthusiastic artists who continue to contribute valuable art pieces to this fundraiser. As if the art auction was not enough, Phoenix Comicon added an extremely popular Texas Hold ‘Em Charity Poker Tournament this year to benefit KNTR, sponsored by BigChrisArt, Zenescope, & Big Dog Ink.
We were invited to sit at a table for expert training by Ray.
During Justice League Arizona’s amazingly sucessful “Arkham Escape” fundraiser for KNTR, Batman showed up at the KNTR booth to make several arrests.
Tyler got into the role of crazed inmate!
I was nabbed by Officer Dial!
The Star Wars pavilion continued their great support by offering photos with Star Wars characters for donations to Kids Need to Read.
There was also a huge Star Wars raffle benefiting KNTR!
Who more perfect to win than these two little fellows?
Allen Amis of Anarchy Squared Creations generously conducted a raffle once again for Kids Need to Read. The prize was an adorable Darth Vader Build-A-Bear!
There were other fantastic fundraisers for KNTR at the convention. Mandalorian Mercs conducted a bounty hunt. Project Hero raffled a beautiful custom-made Captain America shield. Arizona Avengers, ThinkGeek, and Mojo-Bone Software Studios contributed immensely to a highly successful live auction at the KNTR Geek Prom.
In addition to the above mentioned folks, we thank the entire Phoenix Comicon staff for always treating us as though we are special, especially Matt Solberg, Joe Boudrie, Scott Haag, Brandy Kuschel, and Linda Zaruches. To our volunteers, we could not be more grateful for your dedication and joyful spirit. Everyone notices! Kids Need to Read shines because of your kindness. And much appreciation to the entire Riley family for being our special guests and doing so much for Kids Need to Read.
We never feel like our profuse thanks are adequate for these wonderful, generous folks who believe so strongly in the work we do on behalf of disadvantaged children. We are deeply grateful to one and all, no matter the depth of the contribution. If only everyone could see the joy and warmth on their faces as they labored to make a difference for Kids Need to Read! Much love to you all!
To everyone who supported Kids Need to Read at Phoenix Comicon, thank you for assisting us in motivating the unmotivated, giving advantage to the disadvantaged, and demonstrating that reading is an important and incredible gift.
To see ALL the fun and fantastic photography by our amazing team of photographers, be sure to visit our Phoenix Comicon 2012 Photo Galleries. Look for upcoming blogs and videos of the KNTR Geek Prom and the KNTR Build-a-Book program at Phoenix Comicon!
Related Blog: 2012: A Geek Odyssey (aka KNTR Geek Prom)
Related Blog: Doing Time, “Con”-Style
Related Video: Phoenix Comicon 2012: Behind The Scenes – Geek Prom by NewMutinyMedia
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