Inspired by the fan tribute he received at San Diego Comic Con and in celebration of his 33rd birthday, Jared Padalecki has released the third round of his “Always Keep Fighting” Represent t-shirt campaign. Proceeds from the shirt will go to a fund set up by Padalecki and his Supernatural co-star and best friend Jensen Ackles. The fund is designed to assist various causes that promote Mental Health Awareness. Past proceeds have gone to “To Write Love On Her Arms,” an organization that deals with depression, anxiety, addiction, and suicide.
“It’s been a struggle, but I’ve kept on fighting. My only birthday ask is that y’all Always Keep Fighting too,” Padalecki wrote on the Represent site. He has been passionate about this cause for several years, ever since he was diagnosed with depression during Season 3 of Supernatural (2007/2008). He started the campaign in back in March of this year and since then “Always Keep Fighting” has grown astronomically with thousands of shirts selling in just a few hours of each campaign.
As both an avid fan of Supernatural and someone who has been struggling with depression for nearly half my life, the “Always Keep Fighting” campaign means a lot to me. When I see Sam and Dean hunting demons, suffering so many losses, and still having the ability to keep fighting every day, it makes me me feel like I can keep going, too. It’s taught me a lot about perseverance, but also how to lean on people for support; that love really does heal. Sam and Dean are strongest when they’re together and whenever they split apart, something terrible ends up happening: Sam allows Lucifer to possess him; Dean takes on the Mark of Cain; they need each other. I spent a lot of my life feeling alone and unable to get close to anyone. Ever since I’ve started watching Supernatural, I’ve felt like I can let people in. This fandom is truly a family and has taught me a lot.
Now that I’ve got a little extra cash, I fully intend on buying an “Always Keep Fighting” shirt to wear on my worse days and to remind me I might not be an actual hunter, but I can fight my own demons just as strongly. The shirt depicts Padalecki in his signature beanie sitting inside of a triangle, with moose antlers (a Supernatural inside joke) and the words “Always Keep Fighting.” Below that is a singular tea light candle, referencing the amazing tribute and its message that “…when your flame flickers and you fear it will go out, know not even the strongest wind lasts forever; and there are other lights to guide you even in the Darkness…And when your candle burns bright, you can ignite the hearts of others and hope will spread like wildfire. Always Keep Fighting, and you’ll never fight alone.”
The campaign has 10 days left as of news time. After that the shirt will be gone forever. It is available in multiple styles with sizes ranging from XS-5XL.
A touching moment graced the Supernatural panel at San Diego Comic Con this weekend, leaving fans and cast alike touched.
Several months ago, Padalecki started a campaign called “Always Keep Fighting” to benefit “To Write Love On Her Arms,” a charity which helps people struggling with depression, self harm, addiction and suicide. Jensen Ackles later joined the campaign and together they have sold over 70,000 t-shirts that read either “Always Keep Fighting” or “Moose and Squirrel Say Always Keep Fighting” through Represent.com. From there, fans started buying up the design left and right, even starting campaigns to help fans who couldn’t afford to buy one themselves. Soon there were “Always Keep Fighting” support groups and the hashtag #AlwaysKeepFighting was trending on social media.
This campaign came out of Padalecki’s own struggle with depression. “Maybe a lot of people don’t know this, but Season 3, we were shooting an episode, and I went back to my trailer to get changed and just kind of broke down,” Padalecki told Variety. “A doctor came to set and talked to me for about 30 minutes or 45 minutes and said: ‘Jared, I think you’re clinically depressed. I think I should write you a note and we can shut down production for five days and then we can take it from there.’ ”
“These characters that we play on ‘Supernatural,’ Sam and Dean, are always dealing with something greater than themselves, and I’ve sort of learned from the two of them that they get through it with each other, and with help and with support,” Padalecki said to Variety.
Earlier this year, Padalecki canceled his appearance at two conventions due to his need for time with his family. He was exhausted and needed the time off. Many fans believe this was at least partly due to a bout of depression Padalecki had been struggling with lately. He reached out to fans for support, asking them to write to him.
I need all of the love I can get right now. Please please give me a few seconds of your time and write me. #AlwaysKeepFighting
Not long after, thousands of tweets, messages, letters, and fan art came rolling in, all of them expressing how much the actor meant to his fans and how Supernatural had helped them through their own battles with mental illness. Days later, Padalecki thanked his fans and after several weeks of rest, seems to be doing well.
Thank you, from the bottom of my heart and soul, for your love and support. It's going to good use. All of my love and #AlwaysKeepFighting
The Supernatural fandom decided to show Padalecki just a little more how much they cared. San Diego Comic Con was the first time Padalecki had been to a convention since his Twitter outreach and fans wanted to do something special. In the line for the panel, a group of fans were passing out little bags with electric candles and a note. The note revealed that once a cue was given, fans were to turn their candles on and hold them up in the air.
When the moment came, the candles switched on and at first the panelists were confused. Jensen Ackles noticed the lights and his fellow panelists turning to take selfies with them and stopped mid-sentence to figure out what they were. “What’s happening right now?!” he asked. “I think you’re supposed sing Freebird,” joked one of the moderators. It then became clear as fans began shouting, “ALWAYS KEEP FIGHTING!” Touched, the cast applauded them, several giving a standing ovation to their fans for the gesture.
“I’m holding the candle in my pocket right now, I can’t let go of it,” Padelecki tearfully told E! News. He felt incredibly humbled. “At first I didn’t know what it was. I thought people were holding up their iPhones or something. And then someone handed me the note explaining it and I found out what was really going on. It took everything in my power not to cry.”
“Everyone is given a candle that burns just for them,” The note said. “When your flame flickers and you fear it will go out, know not even the strongest wind lasts forever; and there are other lights to guide you even in the Darkness…And when your candle burns bright, you can ignite the hearts of others and hope will spread like wildfire…Always Keep Fighting, and you’ll never fight alone.”
“I thought there was like a rock band about to come out that I didn’t know about,” Ackles also told E! News. “I was like, ‘What is going on? What is happening right now?’ But it’s just this continuing thing. I’m astonished at the support that these fans give Jared and give us on the show, day in and day out.”
The cast’s relationship to their fans really is like a family. They catch each other when they fall. They collaborate with each other on projects like Misha Collins’ scavenger hunt G.I.S.H.W.H.E.S. and through his charity “Random Acts.” The cast goes above and beyond for their fans and this weekend just proved once again how far the fans will go for their favorite actors and the story that changed their lives.
“I am beyond moved. I feel so blessed, and grateful, and honored to be a part of the magical Supernatural Family,” Jared said later on Facebook next to a photo of him with one of the candles. “From the very bottom of my heart and my soul, thank you so much. I will never forget this day. I will never forget the love that I felt and still feel. And to everybody who held a light for me, please know that I hold my light for you. Though I happened to be the one sitting on stage, I am but one small light in a sea of thousands. TOGETHER we can and will make a difference!”
In the CW show Supernatural, brothers Sam and Dean Winchester drive cross country all over the US hunting demons (including vampires, werewolves, and other monsters). Demons in the Supernatural universe prey on the innocent. They love to inflict fear, self-loathing, and play with people’s minds for fun through manipulation and gaining one’s trust. As Dean so simply puts it in the first episode, the Winchesters’ job is “Saving people, hunting things; the Family Business.” Throughout the show, Sam and Dean take down each and every demon they come across and have been doing so for ten seasons.
If you’re a fan of Supernatural, or have a Tumblr account for that matter, you know how important family is to the central characters. You also know that the term “family” doesn’t always mean blood relatives. Sam and Dean would go to the ends of the Earth for each other. They have literally gone to hell and back several times with detours in heaven and purgatory to keep each other safe.
Both Sam and Dean fall off the wagon countless times throughout the show, often multiple times every season, but each time it’s their dedication to each other that brings them back from the edge. In Season Two, Dean sells his soul to bring Sam back to life, understanding that he now only has a year left on Earth. More recently, *SPOILER* Dean becomes a demon and Sam relentlessly chases his brother down, then successfully purges the demon blood out of him, changing him back into a human.
But that kinda of loyalty, determination and compassion doesn’t end between the two brothers. Characters who are not related to the brothers also go to long lengths for their wellbeing as well, such as Bobby, Castiel, Ellen, Jo, Kevin, Garth, Charlie, Jody, Benny and Ash just to name a few. Wherever one or both brothers go, their chosen family is right behind them, catching them each and every time they fall.
Bobby serves as a surrogate Dad for the boys when their father is absent, obsessively running after the demon who killed their mother. Whenever the boys are in jam, they call him and he always has their back. Even *SPOILER* from the grave, Bobby saves them numerous times. He always has their back.
Castiel literally pulled Dean out of hell after the human’s death. He rebels against Heaven, gives up his life as an angel, and dies numerously for the Winchesters. No matter what Castiel’s godly mission is, the angel never waivers in his loyalty and compassion for the brothers.
Ellen and Jo willingly sacrifice themselves for the brothers and the greater good. Kevin is dedicated to deciphering the tablets and comes to the boys rescue whenever they call. Garth takes over Bobby’s role of a walking “ganking encyclopedia” after Bobby’s death. Charlie is their go-to hacker throughout the show and comes to help at the drop of a hat. Jody, a sheriff, helps the boys evade the police and yanks their ass out of trouble countless times. Benny helps Dean find Castiel in Purgatory, then sacrifices himself to get Sam out. Ash helps the brothers multiple times with his computer skills and hides them from Zachariah in Heaven.
The dysfunctional, makeshift family in this series will do anything for each other. They’re not blood, but they consistently take care of their own. It’s no wonder the fans of Supernatural have a similar feeling towards each other.
Starting on December 26th and 27th, hundreds of Supernatural centered Tumblr accounts were sent malicious, anonymous messages urging the owners of those accounts to kill themselves. The fans targeted had talked openly about their struggles with depression and self harm and the attackers were deliberately preying on that vulnerability. Their sole intent was to convince people— those they knew were struggling with self-worth— to commit suicide and did so through manipulation, even pretending to be people the victims knew in real life.
Unfortunately, the attackers were successful with numerous Tumblr users being hospitalized. While there is a lot of speculative information out there due to hacking and it’s difficult to track down the entire story, the fact remains that the Supernatural fandom is under attack by demon-like individuals and if there’s anything Supernatural fans are good at, it’s getting rid of demons.
Once word got out about the anonymous hate, Supernatural fans all over the world began combating it. Instead of salt and holy water, however, the fandom has turned to love and kindness to fight against the harm these particular demons have inflicted. Fans rushed to the rescue, sending out countless messages of love and support to outweigh the hateful messages and urged victims to turn off anonymous messages in their blog settings. The hashtags “FamilyDon’tEndWithBlood”, “AffectedByHate” and “HuntersDon’tSupportBullying” began trending on Tumblr and Twitter. Masterposts began popping up, listing Tumblr users in need of support, what condition those users were in, and urges to call for help if anyone knows the users personally.There were also numerous “safehouse” blogs that quickly appeared, giving those affected a virtual place to run to if attacked.
Soon, fans were writing “Family Don’t End With Blood” on their skin with permanent marker and sharing them online in support.
When word got to the cast and crew of Supernatural, tweets and blog posts of support hit the web. Mark Shepard (Crowley, ironically the King of Hell and number one demon of Supernatural) sent out numerous tweets, expressing his love for the fandom and urging those affected not to listen to their attackers, as difficult as that may be. Misha Collins (Castiel) reminded fans that we can’t necessarily stop hate, but we can choose to ignore it. Felicia Day (Charlie) urged fans to stay strong and reach out for help. Visual Effects Coordinator, Ryan Curtis posted crisis hotline numbers as resources for fans to use. Osric Chau felt that 140 characters wasn’t enough to express his feelings about the event and wrote a post on TwitLonger about the incidents. While Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles have yet to make a statement, both have spoken many times about how supportive the fandom is and how much they care for their fans.
A change.org petition is in the works to find and press charges against the IP address of the perpetrators. “Within the coding of Tumblr, the IP adresses for messages are stored, even for anonymous messengers. Go into the code. Find the people responsible for this and work with the police and internet service providers to identify these people so that they can go to jail for these crimes. These people should never be allowed to access Tumblr or any site where they can perform this kind of hatred again,” says the petition’s description. It currently has over 8,200 supporters with less than 2,000 needed (as of December 28th.)
No one knows why the Supernatural fandom in particular was targeted. It is very hard to understand why anyone would be so malicious towards perfect strangers. However, like Sam and Dean, fans have taken up arms against this hate. In the same way a circle of salt might keep out a demon on the show, fans have fought and are still fighting to keep these very real demons from doing any more harm than they already have. Our hearts are with the family and friends of those affected.
If you are dealing with suicidal thoughts, please know there are resources out there for you. If you live in America please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1 (800) 273-8255. If you live in the US or Canada you can call 1-800-273-TALK. You can also text ANSWER to 839863. You can also look down below at the list of hotlines Tumblr user awlahey has drawn up or check this list for a crisis hotline in your area.