Q&A with The Walking Hope’s Brad Egel

2014/06/25 21:25:34 +00:00

Brad Egel is a self-proclaimed "Stay at Home Dad of 3, Cancer Warrior, Teacher, Musician & Optimist." To fans of The Walking Dead, he's best known as the founder of The Walking Hope, an organization that helps raise funds for the American Cancer Society. As the subject of the latest installment of our Q&A series, Brad tells us about why he started The Walking Hope, support from The Walking Dead's fans and cast members, his upcoming charity event, and his latest shirts:

Thanks for taking the time to talk with us, Brad. Can you tell our readers about why you started The Walking Hope?

Brad Egel: I have been active in cancer charity work for more than ten years. I am always trying to come up with new and interesting ways to bring awareness and fundraising to the masses. I created the cancer charity brand, "The Walking Hope," to connect fans of the show with a way to make a difference. Our community is made up of thousands of The Walking Dead fans who are cancer survivors, caregivers, and those who simply care about making a difference in the fight against cancer. About 1 1/2 years ago, I began designing t-shirts with very brand specific themes consistent with both hope and strong themes from the show. Through strong brand recognition and active social media representation, The Walking Hope has thrived! All proceeds from The Walking Hope brand sales benefit the American Cancer Society.

Of all the properties you could surround your charity with, what was it specifically about The Walking Dead and its fans that made you want to focus there?

Brad Egel: It may seem like an odd connection at first glance. A show about the undead connected with fighting cancer? But if you take a closer look, I feel it is a perfect match of important qualities. I am a big fan of the show. The show is not really about zombies or walkers. The show, at its heart I believe, is about a few simple questions. What happens when everything you know in your world is turned upside down and you have to fight for survival every day? What happens when you don't know who to trust and therefore you are trusting strangers with your life? What happens to your humanity when you see so much destruction and hopelessness around you? What makes you fight on and gives you hope even in these scary and bleak circumstances? These questions and the answers to them are what draw people to the show. But these questions are the same questions faced by cancer patients every day. It really was the perfect parallel. That is why I initially chose to focus the efforts around the show.

The Walking Hope is a cancer charity brand. What causes and organizations does The Walking Hope support?

Brad Egel: The American Cancer society is the beneficiary of all proceeds from the Walking Hope. The American Cancer Society does incredible things for cancer fighters including patient advocacy, transportation to and from treatments, accommodations when treatments are far away from a patient's home, and so much more. It is a wonderful organization and I am proud to donate all of The Walking Hope profits to ACS! I personally work with a number of cancer charities, but The Walking Hope is specifically focused on The American Cancer Society and Relay for Life.

On top of getting involved with various events, I know that you sell The Walking Hope shirts. Can you tell our readers about the different shirts you're offering? What do you have coming up next?

Brad Egel: I have designed about 20 different Walking Hope shirts over the past 1 1/2 years. I always am coming up with new designs that stay true to the show and yet are meaningful to the cause of fighting cancer as well. Currently, the two designs available for 9 more days are Team Daryl and Team Caryl. They can be found at the following addresses. Team Daryl honoring Daryl Dixon's iconic character: http://teespring.com/TheWalkingHopeTeamDaryl6 & Team Caryl - Honoring Daryl and Carol's incredibly deep and meaningful saga: http://teespring.com/thewalkinghopeteamcaryl4

A number of cast members from The Walking Dead have supported your shirts and cause. Can you tell our readers about some of The Walking Dead cast that you've had the pleasure of working with?

Brad Egel: I have had the support of so many cast and crew. The list of cast members who own Walking Hope shirts or hoodies is quite long. About 25 or more. But to name several who are actively supportive on social media and who I genuinely appreciate each and every day, here is a list of The Walking Hope supporters! Melissa Mcbride, Norman Reedus, Chad Coleman, Addy Miller, Kyla Kenedy, Brighton Sharbino, Meyrick Murphy, Lew Temple, Daniel Thomas May, Vincent Ward, Jon Bernthal, Luke Donaldson, Lawrence Gilliard Jr., Theodus Crane, IronE Singleton, Michael Cudlitz, Nick Gomez, Jose Pablo Cantillo, Alanna Masterson, and many more! Some of them are cancer survivors or have a very personal connection to the cause. These cast members and their Tweets and Facebook posts about The Walking Hope have helped me raise more than $35,000 for ACS in less than a year! Having the cast and crew supportive of the cause is amazing and I am endlessly grateful for the support, but the community now several thousand strong in over 14 countries. Supporters from The Walking Dead fan base is the lifeblood of The Walking Hope and I truly believe in the special community we have built together. It is not your average fan page. It means so much more to so many thousands!

You're going to be part of a zombie event taking place at the end of the month in Detroit. Can you tell us more about the event and how our readers can learn more?

Brad Egel: The event called, Detroit Zombie Apocalypse II, Cancer Fears The "D" is Saturday, June 28th in Detroit at the Tangent Gallery/Hastings Street Ballroom and the event information and sign up page can be found at https://www.facebook.com/events/1419445994989633/

The American Cancer Society via The Walking Hope is the featured charity and a portion of proceeds as well as all silent auction proceeds will go to The Walking Hope. It is going to be an amazingly wonderful undead celebration and a chance for people of all different backgrounds to fight back against cancer in a unique way! Please check out the link above as this event has so many facets to it including awesome entertainment, artisans, vendors, performers and I will be there personally with Walking Hope gear! If you are in the Detroit area or the midwest, you should try and come. It is going to be amazing and all for such a good cause! The silent/live auction features a large amount of items related to The Walking Dead including a one of a kind Walking Hope hoodie with 21 cast member signatures on it! Event organizers Sue Summers and Piper and Chris Smith have put together a spectacular event. We will also be honoring some survivors who are big fans of the show by having them attend! I am really looking forward to it!

For anyone that wants to see the latest designs from The Walking Hope or learn more about your efforts, where can they find you online?

Brad Egel: We can be found online at www.facebook.com/thewalkinghope2 and on Twitter @bradegel