If only Gary Gygax could attend the convention that bears his name.
The legendary creator of the iconic tabletop role-playing game Dungeons and Dragons passed away on March 4, 2008. But what originally started as a small memorial service has turned into Gary Con – an annual convention that draws thousands of gamers to Lake Geneva, Wisconsin (population 8,000), all with a passion for honoring the man who created the game at the place where it was created.
Each year, a fundraising auction is held at the convention, and, for the last four years, the money raised has supported the injured veterans and family members Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) serves.
It’s only fitting the event gives back to veterans; it was first hosted at the American Legion Hall in Lake Geneva by Gary’s son, Luke.
“It was a place where gaming conventions were held in the early 1970s when I was a boy, and I remember how welcoming it was and how it felt very natural to me,” Luke recalled. “When I decided to make Gary Con into an annual event to gather and pay respects to my father, I wanted to have that feeling. It really was camaraderie.”
Luke, now 51, enlisted in the Army when he was 18 and has more than 30 years of service, including in the Army Reserves and National Guard. He knows the value of connecting with others, whether it’s through gaming or the military.
“There's a bond around the gaming table that's similar to the bond of shared hardship and service,” Luke said. “And I think that's why gaming can be a really useful tool to help people who may be suffering from PTSD, anxiety, or isolation.”
So, when he was considering supporting a cause through Gary Con, giving back to veterans through WWP hit close to home.
“I wanted to make sure that we were giving to a charity that helps not only through the gaming community but helping out service members and my family in the Army,” Luke said.
One of the warriors who’s benefitted from connecting through gaming has been Army veteran and wounded warrior Michael Carrasquillo.
“If you’re a veteran in need, the resources available to you through Wounded Warrior Project are unmatched,” Michael said. “The fact they’re in the gaming space … that allows someone who maybe doesn’t want to go to the basketball game, doesn’t want to do the arts class, but has a passion for gaming, maybe that’s how they connect with other people.”
Michael saw the support for WWP firsthand at Gary Con this year.
“The level of passion, excitement, and energy in there was electric and I think people felt it. They felt connected to our story and to our presence,” Michael said.
Those supporters raised $30,000 this year. That money will support free programs and services for warriors and their families, who never pay a penny for any WWP program or service because they already paid their dues on the battlefield.
Contact: — Chris Obarski, Public Relations, firstname.lastname@example.org, 904.570.0823
About Wounded Warrior Project
Since 2003, Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) has been meeting the growing needs of warriors, their families, and caregivers — helping them achieve their highest ambition. Learn more.