Scares That Care is a charity that was started in 2007 by Joe Ripple. Joe is a retired Baltimore County, Maryland, Police Detective. He started Scares that Care as a tribute to the daughter of a fellow officer after she succumbed to a terminal illness.
The goal of the charity originally was to help those fighting breast cancer or childhood illness. The mission was expanded by Kane Hodder (Yea, Jason Voorhees) when he asked Scares that Care to take over his burn survivor program.
Scares That Care prides itself on being an organization with no salaries. No one gets a paycheck. All of the proceeds go to the families that need assistance from the charity. To quote their website, “We do this because it’s the right thing to do, and we want to represent the Horror community in the best light possible.”
Every year for the past six years, Scares that Care has a horror-themed charity weekend in Williamsburg, Virginia. They have a ton of different horror celebrities and an additional ton of spooky vendors. There are costume contests and “scare-aoke.” They have live readings and The Rocky Horror Picture Show performance. They also get some of the best horror authors to come in with their books and pens, ready to sign.
So obviously I wanted to go. I mean, they had all of my favorite things in one place. There were a few problems with me getting there. For one thing, I live in northeast Ohio and the convention is in Williamsburg, Virginia. For another, I have twin toddlers with whom I stay at home. I thought that it just wasn't in the realm of possibilities for me to go this year. Next year. That’s what I kept thinking to myself.
Being an active “bookstagrammer,” I chat with horror authors from time to time. So when Bob Ford learned I wouldn’t be going, he said that I’d be missed and that he hoped I would make it next year. And that was that.
But on the first day of the convention, I got a notification that Bob had tagged me in a photo. (WHAT?! AN AUTHOR I REALLY ADMIRE TAGGED ME IN SOMETHING OMG OMG OMG!) He had decided to do shout outs to all those he knew that wanted to be there but couldn't make it happen. In the photo, Bob Ford, John Boden, and Jacob Haddon held up a sheet of paper that said “Hello from Scares That Care! @pageandparlor.” (I’m not crying, you are.) I immediately showed it to my husband and gushed over how awesome these authors were being and how cool it was that they did that.
AND THEN MY HUSBAND DID THE COOLEST THING. He made sure the twins had a babysitter for while he would be at work, he made sure my car got an oil change and looked up hotels for me. (Scares That Care does have a block of hotel rooms reserved in the Hilton Doubletree, where the convention is held, but there weren’t any left at that point.)So the next morning, on the second day of the conference, I picked up my sister and we started the nine-hour drive from Ohio to Virginia.
We got to the convention at 8 pm that night and there were no vendors set up. We knew there was a costume contest happening and “scare-aoke” was going to start soon. So we went to the bar and grabbed a drink to relax for a little bit. I turned around and practically crashed into Josh Malerman. I know, I was fangirling like a maniac. But we chatted for a while about his books and the convention and he was so down to earth and kind. That’s when I knew that this trip would go down in the books. We had been there for four seconds and I already met and talked to one of my literary heroes.
Josh Malerman and I in the first 4 seconds of me being there
I met Matt Hayward, who I had talked to online a bunch of times and I was so excited to meet. Matt acted as my welcoming committee. He introduced me to a bunch of authors and publishers. We saw Bob Ford reading from Penny for Your Thoughts, the book he co-authored with Matt. You should probably read that book because they are working on making it a series as you read this article.
Paul Tremblay and I just chilling like besties
Do you ever have that dream where you're just sitting around a table talking to all of your idols and heroes about life and movies? Where they tell funny stories and laugh at your jokes? Where you are all just sitting around like old friends having a drink? WELL, THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT HAPPENED NEXT.
That night, I talked to Paul Tremblay and Patrick Lacey about horror movies. Aaron Dries taught me about the drop bears of Australia, and insisted that I come to his table the following day with a hot beverage to do something called “The Tim Tam Slam.” (We’ll get to that later though.) Matt Serafini, Scott Cole and Adam Cesare all laughed at my story about how I was able to get to this convention. C.V. Hunt wanted to know about the book I was reading at the time and how I liked it. Brian Keene actually hugged me! We eventually all called it a night and went our separate ways to get what little sleep we could before the final day of the convention.
I know I’m bragging, guys, but this is exactly what it’s like at the Scares That Care Charity Weekend. Multiple authors said that this was “the family reunion convention.” They told me that this was the most laid back convention that they go to every year. Everyone said that Scares That Care really encourages people to just hang out with their favorite authors. A few authors said that other conventions are more “work,” and that this one was more about meeting readers and connecting with them. They’re having a great time and raising money for a great cause.
Sunday came along and my sister and I rolled ourselves out of bed and pumped ourselves full of caffeine as we prepared to go to the convention, but this time, in the daylight. When we walked in, the vibe was exactly the same. There were more people and more vendors, but everyone was still just as welcoming, kind and laid back.
Did I mention that the whole place was decked out in spooky decorations and bloody handprints? Because oh yeah, the whole place was decked out in spooky decorations and bloody handprints. It was like Halloween took over The Double Tree and no one was complaining. We were, after all, all there for a horror-themed convention.
We walked around and looked at the tons of vendors selling everything from scary soaps to super spicy hot sauce. There was an escape room that we sadly didn't have time to go through. We met a bunch of horror celebrities like Kane Hodder and Sid Haig. We walked around and I bought more books than I am comfortable admitting. I had to stop myself from buying books after a certain point because I didn't have enough strength to carry anymore and I like the idea of not going broke.
Just me holding like half of the books I purchased at the convention
Now, to go off-topic slightly, I need to tell you about the (now infamous) Tim Tam Slam. When I got to Aaron Dries table, hot beverage in hand, he knew what I was there for. I bought my books from him that he so kindly signed and he brought out the Tim Tams. I found that Tim Tams are Australian chocolate cookies and to slam them, you bite of each end and drink your hot beverage through it. But I had to be careful to eat it quickly because once that liquid goes through the cookie, the cookie basically explodes. What you’re seeing below is a series of pictures showing off my very first Tim Tam Slam (I recommend it, if you get the chance).
Matt Hayward and Patrick Lacey holding down their author’s table like champs
I hit up a few more authors’ tables before my sister and I had to hit the road back to Ohio and responsibilities. Matt Serafini, Adam Cesare and Scott Cole all had a table together and they were all awesome to talk to. They told me about their books and upcoming projects. By the way, Adam Cesare’s new book that comes out in 2020 sounds like it’s going to be amazing and we should all be getting really excited for it. Matt Hayward and Patrick Lacey had some amazing books at their table and were very cool to talk to.
After we finished the rounds of the convention, my sister and I headed back home to be adults and run errands and avoid laundry. The trip was long and we were both very tired. Even as I sit here writing this, I still have yet to catch up on sleep. I’m still reeling from this weekend. It is hard to believe that these experiences actually happened and, if it weren’t for the pictures and mass amounts of signed books, I might have thought it was some kind of a fever dream.
It’s really hard to put into words what it is like walking into a room full of people and seeing your people. Because that’s what you do. You walk in and think to yourself, “These people are my people.” That is just what Scares That Care Charity Weekend is like. It’s laid back and fun. When you are there, you meet so many wonderful people and have so many neat experiences. You might see Batman and a member of Gwar singing The Backstreet Boys. You might find out that one of your favorite authors does not like your favorite newer horror movie (Paul Tremblay, you made some excellent points, but I am holding firm). Whatever experiences you have at Scares That Care Charity Weekend, you are sure to have fun and support a great cause while you’re at it. Hopefully, I’ll see you there next year.
If you would like to donate to Scares That Care you can visit https://scaresthatcare.org/donate-now