The one phrase heard most often at "Slay-A-Thon" -- aside from "shut up, Dawn!" -- has to be "for a good cause." And that's with, well, good cause, because it's true. It doesn't take a special event for a bunch of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" fans to watch a marathon of episodes. Hell, many of us do that every weekend. But at Slay-A-Thon, we're doing it to raise money for the Make-A-Wish foundation, which puts our love of the show, and the other works of Joss Whedon, to good use.
2012 marked the third time I made the trek from Connecticut to Chicago to attend Slay-A-Thon (and, good news, my travel wasn't a disaster like it was in 2010!), and this year's event was extra special. That's because Nicholas Brendon, aka "Xander Harris" was in attendance for the event. He signed autographs, took pictures and MC'd the live auction. He even watched two episodes -- "Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered" and "The Zeppo" -- with the audience then did a Q&A after each one. It was incredibly cool, and a nice bonus for those of us who have been coming to the even for years. Plus, he did the Snoopy Dance.
There was also a raffle for an hour of Dave & Buster's "game time" with Brendon, something I did not win, but I heard went pretty well. I know the girl who did win was beaming when she came back into the screening room.
For me, there were two highlights to the show, as there have been every year I've attended. The first is the thing that kicks off the event every year; we get to hear from one of the kids whose wish we funded thanks to a past Slay-A-Thon.
This year that wish was extra special (a recurring theme for the 10th anniversary event) because the girl, Allyx, had used her wish to meet Joss Whedon. Not only did she get to meet him, but she made multiple set visits to the filming of "The Avengers". The crowd was enthralled by her story, and probably a little jealous too. I don't want to speak for everyone in attendance, but I know for me it's cool hearing the stories from the kids and how happy their wish made them, and knowing I played even a small part in making that happen.
The other unique thing I love about Slay-A-Thon is the auctions. They serve two purposes: they provide cool Buffy and Whedonverse related stuff for the fans, and they... wait for it... "raise money for a good cause" (there's that phrase again!).
This year, I picked up an SDCC exclusive Jayne T1 action figure (signed by Adam Baldwin), a set of promo cards from Sky, signed photos of Julia Lee, Marc Blucas, Dichen Lachman, Fran Kranz, Harry Lennix, Miracle Laurie and Tahmoh Penikett, plus this bad boy:
That's actually an item that I donated, a Buffy Season 8 comic lithograph signed by 14 people: Amber Benson, Nick Brendon, Emma Caulfield, Jo Chen (the artist), Felicia Day, Eliza Dushku, Anthony Stewart Head, Seth Green, Clare Kramer, James Marsters, Mercedes McNab, Mark Metcalf, Camden Toy and Joss Whedon. It was the last item of the live auction, and since I'd just missed out on the previous item (a script from "Sanctuary" signed by a ton of people as well), I had money to spare, and decided to buy this back. On some level, I didn't want to let it go, but it also gave me an opportunity to donate more money to a good cause.
I ended up not staying the whole night, only because I had an early flight back to Connecticut on Sunday and I was already feeling sleepy, but I still had a great time, and I hope to go back next year. As does Nicholas Brendon, as he said at the end of his night, when he also told a funny -- and PG-13 -- joke he learned on the set of "Criminal Minds."