This article was originally published at The Nerd Cave on April 17, 2014.
Comic book fans are some of the best people in the world. There’s proof at Legend Comics & Coffee in Omaha, NE right now.
They are currently hosting the Legend Comics & Coffee 3rd Annual Make-A-Wish Fundraiser. It is a month long drawing for a variety of prizes ending on Free Comic Book Day. Every year the store donates a significant comic along with various other prizes and donations from local businesses to be drawn for at $5 per ticket. All proceeds go directly to Make-A-Wish, while prizes, Paypal fees, manhours, and other costs are all paid for by the store. The homepage of the fundraiser can be found here.
Legend provided copies of Amazing Fantasy #15 (the first appearance of Spider-Man) and Spider-Man #1 in 2012 and 2013, respectively. This year they are giving away a copy of The Walking Dead #1 with a CGC rating of 9.6. It is valued at approximately $ 4,300. In addition, the grand prize will grow as more money is raised, creating a drawing for another copy of The Walking Dead #1 (CGC rating 9.4) after $20,000 has been collected.
The fundraiser was originally planned by co-owner David DeMarco who was inspired by his niece. He was kind enough to share his story with The Nerd Cave:
I married a remarkable woman, Michelle. She didn’t bat an eyelash when I asked if I could become part owner of a comic book store. This remarkable woman I married also has a remarkable niece named Alyssa, who is now my niece. When Alyssa was five, she was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia and spent years in the hospital. Alyssa is in her 20s now. She is a remarkable young woman who is constantly raising money for pediatric cancer through For the Kids. She is one of the nicest, sweetest people I’ve ever met, you would never know that she went through such a horrible ordeal at such a young age.
I spent a lot of time talking with Alyssa when she was in town for Michelle’s and my wedding reception. I took away a great deal from our conversation, but the biggest thing was that I wanted to start doing things to help make people’s lives better. I learned that Alyssa got a Make-A-Wish granted when she was six. It was this wish that gave her the happy memories to cling to when being sick all the time got tough. It was the wish that ensured that no matter what happened, her family, mom, dad, brothers and sister, would have a memory of their daughter and sister that didn’t involve the hospital. ‘Whoever saves one life, saves the entire world.’ Sometimes, you can’t prevent a loved one from dying, no matter how hard you try, but Make-A-Wish gives children and families the world entire and that is as noble a goal as you will ever find.
One month after my wedding reception, my comic shop opened in its new location and was immediately filled with the best customers and friends a person could ask for. I am incredibly lucky. And in that month, I decided to do something that would make my niece proud. Before I owned a shop, I spent a great deal of time collecting Spider-man comics. Well, now I owned an entire comic book store, there was only one thing to do: use my position as a comic book store owner to make a difference in the world, and that is why every year Legend Comics & Coffee uses the perfect storm of excitement about Free Comic Book Day to raise as much money as we can for Make A Wish.
I don’t know what I would be doing right now if I hadn’t met Alyssa. If I hadn’t seen the difference Make-A-Wish can have on a family. So, thanks to Alyssa for being the best niece an uncle could ask for, and thanks to Make-A-Wish for giving children a chance to hope.
If there were ever a worthy cause, it’s Make-A-Wish. The mission is simple: We grant the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions to enrich the human experience with hope, strength and joy.
Those three concepts tie back to the essence of what superheroes are all about. They’re modern fables that provide us with lessons about doing the right thing and being strong. They inspire us with wonder and reveal that it is possible to make the world better. They’re hopelessly optimistic in the best way possible. It’s no surprise that the culture which surrounds these stories is so ready to help.
When David DeMarco started this drive, when customers donated to it, when you clicked on the Paypal button, it was all done to make the world a slightly better place, to help one child who really needed. Years ago it made a difference in Alyssa’s life. Tomorrow it will make a difference in someone else’s.
That’s pretty amazing.