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The Gen Con Vaccination Drive

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The Gen Con Vaccination Drive Empty The Gen Con Vaccination Drive

Post  Don on Sun Jan 10, 2010 7:40 pm

In an attempt to counter the harmful propaganda of the antivaccination movement and help out some kids while we're at it, since last year's Gen Con we've been planning a vaccination drive to benefit children in Indiana. Right now the details aren't set in stone, but we're working with the Indiana Immunization Coalition to find a suitable beneficiary for any money we collect and Dr. Joe Albeitz, blogger at Science-Based Medicine, lead organizer of the TAM7 vaccination drive, and all-around awesome dude, is acting in an unofficial official advisory capacity.

The general plan is to (hopefully) have a table or booth outside the exhibit hall (more than one if we can get away with it) where we collect donations to benefit whoever we end up hooking up with. The volunteers working the table will be responsible for enthusiastically exhorting passers-by for donations, even just small ones, and will have to know the basic facts about vaccination (which won't be hard, because I'm going to put together pamphlets to hand out anyway, and the important info will be in those). Sean and I plan on having a "menu" for when we're working the booth of things that people can "trade" their donations for (because research shows that people are more likely to donate money if they get something in return, even if it's just a token something), which will include things like card tricks, mentalism, and close-up magic (we're both amateurs, but we won't be sawing ladies in half). I plan on giving out cold-readings for donations, as well (palm, tarot, or psychic; the person donating gets to choose). Anyone with other talents or skills they can lend to our trade menu, please let us know.

The table will also act as a staging area for the entire Gen Con Skeptics program. In addition to pamphlets about vaccination, we'll have schedules of all the skeptical talks we're organizing and promotional flyers and such.

The biggest hurdle involved in making this plan a reality is Gen Con itself, more specifically the organizers. If, for some reason, they don't want us running a fundraiser at Gen Con, then we're boned. I don't think it'll be that hard a sell, though, because in years past the Klingon Jail-n-Bail and Cardhalla were collecting for charity, and we'll be doing the same, just offering something different in return. If we hit this head-on and I can get all our ducks in a row before I bring it up to Gen Con, I think we stand a pretty good chance of getting this thing moving.

The big thing to remember is that this isn't just about raising money, it's also about raising awareness. Money affects immediate issues in the short term, and awareness affects deeper issues in the long-term. To that end, if Gen Con approves the drive, we'll also be organizing at least two iterations of a "Value of Vaccination" talk, basically to give positive information about immunization and counter the claims of the antivaxxers. Chances are the talk will be a modified version of my presentation "The March of the Mercury Militia" which I gave to the Purdue Skeptics this past November, which itself was a modified version of the antivax section of our "Skepticism, Critical Thinking, and Pop Culture" panel presentation from last year's Gen Con.

If we can pull this off, this will be freakin' huge.

As a final note, this fundraiser is my baby, so expect me to be appropriately territorial. I want it to go as well as it possibly can.
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