“It’s not just fandom. It’s family.” If you are at all familiar with Walker Stalker Convention or Heroes and Villains Fan Fest, you’ve probably seen this tag line before. Though I’d seen it, I had never put much thought into what it meant until I experienced this family for myself. From attending the conventions as a fan to beginning this podcast with Kia, I have witnessed a fandom that supports each other with their whole hearts. I have seen people come together for each other in a way that can only be described as magical. Their one common thread? They love The Walking Dead and attending the conventions that celebrate their favorite show.
In this four part series, I will be chatting with many of the people that make up this family. Today, I am highlighting the volunteers and ambassadors that have helped make the conventions you love happen.
What made you decide to volunteer for WSC vs attending as a fan?
Lauren (volunteered for WSC ATL 2016 & HVFF ATL 2016): I decided to volunteer because I have previous convention experience, both being as a fan and a volunteer and I wanted to utilize my experience with WSC.
Calli Newman (volunteered for 1 WSC): I love volunteering for different events. Am a fan of the show so it was the best of both worlds.
Jeff Wagoner (4 time WSC volunteer): I decided to volunteer instead of attending because, this might sound crazy, but I love to people watch! I love to see the reactions from the fans and the celebrities as they meet one another. Nothing else like it! Seeing the smiles and laughs on each other’s faces is so awesome!
Kimberly Lujan (3 time WSC volunteer): I originally bought tickets to attend in 2015. When I found out that you could volunteer and work with the cast that I admired so much, I signed up and was accepted. Since then, I will try to work as many as I can. We don’t volunteer anymore. Since we are now paid for our time, we are called “ambassadors.” For me, being on a fixed income, the money really helps. Working allows you access to the same event for free and it helps on costs. I believe that WSC wanted to help compensate us for some of our travel expenses. I think that’s awesome!
Kimberly T (3 time volunteer, including WSC ATL 2017): I really have no clue! I found WSC randomly one day when I was bored at work. I clicked the volunteer tab and on a whim signed me and my husband up. This was months before the actual con. I’d actually forgotten all about it and then I got an email saying I was accepted to volunteer. In those days it was kind of like a lottery for who got chosen and who didn’t. They always made it clear that they wanted to give as many people the chance to volunteer as they could so just because you were picked for one didn’t mean you would automatically be picked for another. Had we not been picked to volunteer we probably would have attended as a guest otherwise.
What do you love most about volunteering for WSC?
Karen Crawford (WSC ATL will be her 4th time volunteering): The best part of being an Ambassador is helping the attendees. Whether it’s just showing them where they need to be, explaining a process they don’t understand, or holding a little girl’s hand when she is overwhelmed with excitement to meet a celeb.
Jeff Wagoner: What I love most about volunteering at the conventions is getting to work along side the celebrities and them really treating you like the celebrity! They always tell us they are just like us with high profile jobs that’s all! Also what I love most is they remember you when they see you working again!
Calli: The people. I got to work with a fun group. Also seeing and helping put smiles on guest faces was a big highlight.
Kelsey Odle (volunteered for WSC and HVFF Nashville): I LOVE being able to see people meet their favorite actor or actress.
Kimberly Lujan: In the beginning, it was the fact that I got to be near the cast and producers of my favorite show. NOW, I enjoy being a part of a huge family and group of people that I can depend on and that accept my nerdiness without any judgment. I Also work in customer service so I love to interact with the people and fans. We are there to make their experience an awesome one.
Anna (3 time WSC volunteer): I loved helping people and seeing their excitement.
Kayla H (one time WSC volunteer): I loved the fans. As an attendee, you are consumed with what you want & who you want to see, you forget the other fans. As a volunteer/ambassador I got to see so many people meet their favorite villain.
Do you have a favorite memory or story from your time spent volunteering for WSC?
Lauren: Probably getting to work the Tom Payne line last year. Everyone said I was the best volunteer in that line and I took that as a major compliment. He signed my shirt before I left. It was the best.
Karen Crawford: My favorite memory is from WSC Nashville 2017. I was working Steven Yeun’s Line, and a disabled woman came up to me and starting asking questions. It was her very first WSC, and she was Gold. She didn’t understand what she needed to do with her photo ops, her autographs, or where she needed to be at what time. I excused myself from my line and walked her over to CelebPhotoOps so she could choose her photos. A little while later, as I was still working Steven’s Line, but was up at the front this time, she came back. She was so excited that she got to meet Steven, and got his photo op. She thanked me profusely, and then gave me the biggest hug I think I’ve ever had! I tried not to cry, but I’m sure there were some tears that escaped. Working the cons isn’t about being close to he celebs, it’s about being close to the attendees… making it the most memorable experience they have ever had. Seeing the smiles and excitement on the faces of the attendees warms my heart so much. It just makes me feel good that I can be a part of all of this!
Jeff Wagoner: My favorite memory from my time of volunteering is working with Lorenzo Henrie in Charlotte in 2016! He kept bringing me food from the green room and we kept throwing candy into the crowd walking by! We had such a blast.
Kelsey Odle: My favorite memory as an ambassador would have to be from Walker Stalker Con Nashville. At this WSC, I was working with Steven Yeun. Steven was a little late getting to the convention on Sunday and there was a girl around the age of 12 standing in the front of the Gold VIP line. We were able to talk awhile because Steven was late and, as she was telling me how much she loved Steven, she burst into tears and started shaking. She asked me if I had ever met him. I told her that I had and Steven was the sweetest person. I also told her that if it were possible, she may even love him more after she met him and not to be nervous because he was so amazing. Steven arrived and I watched this little girl meet him and get a hug from him with tears in her eyes. She came back through the Gold VIP line just so she could give me a hug, thank me for talking to her, and tell me that I helped ease her nerves while waiting.
Anna: There are so many favorite memories…all of them. I think one of my favorites was assisting with escorting a Walking Hope survivor to a few tables, and sharing a few of my photo ops with him and his family.
Kimberly T: Probably my “Baby Negan’s” 15 seconds of fame via Twitter. Meeting Jeffrey Dean Morgan was SO fun! We dressed our little Finley up as baby Negan and his reaction was priceless. He said….”awwwww….ohhhhhh… a baby Negan!!! Can I hold her?” So of course we handed her over and he was so sweet with her. Even better, some of his “people” took candid shots on the side and emailed us copies later. We even went back and had him autograph the picture the next day. A few days later, we noticed Finley’s picture floating around Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook and it was even tweeted by Skybound Entertainment which was pretty huge to us! We will definitely remember that forever.
Kayla H: There was a little boy who loves Negan. JDM was presale only unless they opened the lines up. On Saturday, they were able to open his line to everyone else, who didn’t already purchase a autograph. When I was able to find his parents and tell them, the little boys face lit up ! He was so excited. After he walked out, he ran over & hugged my legs saying thank you. That one little moment made my entire weekend. Seeing a fan, that small, so happy was why I wanted to volunteer again.
Interested in becoming a Walker Stalker Con ambassador? Check out their website for more details!