By Kevin J. Sabo
For the Independent
From felting a portrait of Star Wars character Chewbacca out of cat fur to throwing impromptu beach parties at the local senior’s lodge, GISH is a weird and wonderful time of year.
The brainchild of Supernatural actor Misha Collins, G.I.S.H. stands for Greatest International Scavenger Hunt and was born following a publicity stunt in 2010 when the producers of Supernatural asked Collins to engage his fans and win the television series a People’s Choice award.
After winning the award, and seeing the engagement with his followers, GISH was born in 2011, and by 2012 had already won the Guinness World Record for largest Media Scavenger Hunt of its kind.
During the week of GISH, this year running July 27th to Aug. 3rd, teams of 15 take on various challenges from a list that is posted at the start of the week.
The tasks range from weird, like the previously mentioned cat fur portrait, to the fun of spreading cheer in the community.
Records of the challenges being completed are submitted for points, and the team with the highest overall score is able to go on trip of a lifetime.
It’s not all about the antics or the possibility of winning the trip though.
“The change-a-life goal is the main reason that I GISH each year,” said Lynn Sabo, a GISH team member in Castor.
“The challenges that give back to our local community are another reason.”
Each year since its inception, GISH has partnered with a different life-changing charity, with the charity for 2019 assisting the Mines Advisory Group in the Lao Peoples Democratic Republic (formerly Laos).
Per population Laos is the most heavily bombed country in the world, with over 2 million tonnes of bombs being dropped during the Vietnam war between 1964 and 1973.
Of the bombs dropped over the region during the war, an estimated 80 million of them didn’t explode, and are still taking lives today.
GISH’s goal this year was to raise $150,000 through crowd-funding, to raise money for the ongoing explosives removal, as well as helping pay for prosthetics for those who have been impacted by these explosives.
The goal was eclipsed in 48 hours, and to date GISH has raised over $240,000 for this cause, primarily through the GISH participants sharing the fundraising link through their social media.
Though GISH has changed over the years, it continues to carry on strong, with over 55,000 participants taking part around the world in 2016.
“I like that it’s bizarre. It’s fun. It’s crazy. It’s outside the box,” said Sabo.
“It gives me permission to be goofy for a week.”