Jo Garfein Talks Cancer Gets LOST Charity Auction, Ideas for Next Year and BEYOND!

By Prutha S. Patel (@PSPatel)

Courtesy of Cancer Gets LOST

Courtesy of Cancer Gets LOST

This year's CANCER GETS LOST Charity Auction may be wrapping up, but NOW was a great time to catch up with our friend, the executive director and co-founder of the auction, Jo Garfein, to discuss her ideas for next year's auction and beyond! 

Over the years, we’ve seen many charity auctions pop up and all of them do so many great things for different organizations – what makes Cancer Gets LOST so unique?

Jo: To me, Cancer Gets LOST stands out from other charity auctions because of the personal connections created during the auction acquisitions process. Most charities like ours host auctions featuring entirely donated items (a terrific and successful business model), but I go out of my way to make face-to-face connections with as many actors and writers/producers as I can to get our items signed. It is quite something when genuine passion is palpable on both sides, and then trust is easily established. Actors are much more likely to retweet CGL auction links and work with us in the future if a personal connection has been made. In my experience, fans also truly appreciate knowing when items have been signed in person - as well as hearing about the stories behind the acquisitions and autographs.

What was or has been your inspiration for creating such an amazing project?

Jo: Initially, my friend Jared and I created Cancer Gets LOST to raise money for a dear friend with brain cancer. We hosted a successful charity auction in her honor shortly after she passed away in 2014, and donated the proceeds to the National Brain Tumor Society (her charity of choice). Unfortunately and as you know, cancer is pervasive and we continue to have friends and family battling the disease. Thus, we want all forms of cancer to get lost, and select different cancer organizations to benefit from our auctions every year. We draw great inspiration from the brave children and adults that face cancer, and feel that is it both our duty and our destiny to fundraise for cancer cures via auctions of pop culture memorabilia.

It’s really wonderful seeing all these fandoms unite to do good in the world, what would you say has been one of your personal favorite memories attached to the project because of this?

Jo: The biggest and loveliest surprise over the two years it took to build the 2016 charity auction was the sheer number of very kind fans that reached out to donate items and autographs from various Cons and fan events! Thanks to the proliferation of social media, fans are finding CGL via word-0f-mouth within amazing online fan communities. Many of them now tweet or email us to say that they'll be at a specific upcoming Con, and ask if we are interested in getting anything signed for upcoming auctions. An incredibly sweet gesture, and always appreciated. The 100 fandom in particular was spectacularly generous with items donated for the current auction!

With each year’s very much well-deserved growth, what is something you’re hoping to do in the future that you haven’t been able to do just quite yet?

Jo: I have lofty goals! Honestly, I would love for CGL to have a presence at San Diego Comic-Con, WonderCon or other fan events; a booth that exists simply as a donated item drop-off and repository. It would serve as a convenient location for fans to be able to contribute to future CGL charity auctions, whether items are specifically purchased to donate or items that are given away for free but have value. For example, every year at SDCC, fans win lottery slots for exclusive signings and acquire posters for shows that they don't watch - but want to donate them to CGL instead!

In addition, CGL would like to host more live fundraising events, and that would not just be limited to Los Angeles. 

Courtesy of Cancer Gets LOST

Courtesy of Cancer Gets LOST

What are one or two signed items you’re hoping to have in next year’s auction? Maybe something that just logistically hasn’t been possible yet, but you’d love to have featured one day? Here’s your chance to throw it out there! 

Jo: Excellent question! Ideally, CGL would love to expand our charity auctions to include more personal experiences (versus primarily physical collectibles). For instance, it would be fantastic if we were able to auction off a personalized tweet from a popular actor, a TV series set visit, a private meet & greet after a concert or filming, etc. We may still be a 2-person grassroots organization, but our connections are rapidly expanding and we tend to dream outside of the box.

When it comes to new and future CGL charity auction items, we certainly wouldn't mind expanding our screen-used prop and costume offerings! I dream about acquiring a sword from Game of Thrones, a Litchfield prison outfit from Orange is The New Black, pieces of zombie prosthetics from The Walking Dead or Fear the Walking Dead, an emblem or logo patch from The Flash, etc. 

Anything you’d like to say to the readers?

Jo: As the 2016 Cancer Gets LOST Charity Auction comes to a close this weekend (Saturday, September 3), we would like to extend our sincere gratitude to every single person that registered for the auction or placed any bids. The amount of money that CGL is raising for Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation for Childhood Cancer via this auction is all thanks to the stunning generosity of fans across the globe from 60+ different fandoms! When you win an item in a CGL charity auction, you're making an actual difference in the lives of children battling cancer, as well as their families.  There is no better reward than that, if you ask me.

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