'Vampire Diaries' fans raise funds for the Ian Somerhalder Foundation at EyeCon

somerhalder-eyecon.jpg "Vampire Diaries" fans arrived in Atlanta, GA in droves on March 25 for the EyeCon Convention, a weekend-long event that gave fans the opportunity to see some of their favorite stars in person.

Current and former cast members Ian Somerhalder, Paul Wesley, Michael Trevino, Steven R. McQueen, and Robert Pralgo appeared in fan Q&A sessions, signed autographs, and posed for photos with fans.

Somerhalder declined to be paid for the event, instead asking that 100% of the ticket sales for his autographs and photo sessions be donated to the Ian Somerhalder Foundation. Ultimately, $32,360 was raised from fan photo-ops and autographs alone, and EyeCon contributed an undisclosed amount of their own profits. Zap2it was on the scene to help Somerhalder with an auction that additionally raised over $6,000 thanks to some very generous fans in the audience.

The money will go toward funding research and projects that promote conservation, develop green energy solutions, and help stop legislation that allows for animal cruelty -- among other things. somerhalder-devon-eyecon.jpg

As Somerhalder has told us in the past, the Ian Somerhalder Foundation is dedicated to inspiring people across the world. "It's a collaborative spirit," he explained in November. "This is about educating and empowering people globally, especially the youth, to start acting now and understand that their environment and they have to start learning how to protect it. Education is going to be our greatest tool."

That collaborative spirit was certainly on display at EyeCon. We met seven-year-old Devon Haas, who, after donating her tooth fairy money to the foundation (even though she's too young to watch "The Vampire Diaries"!), was inspired to create the ISF Kids' Army, which provides a forum for children to fight for the future of our planet. She's currently on a Twitter crusade to encourage other kids to demand a change in Canadian seal-hunting legislation.

Fans also manned booths for their own projects which raised funds for Somerhalder's Foundation and their own charitable efforts. Vampire Support (an organization founded by 17-year-old Iowa high school student Chloe Dawn), raised close to $4000, a percentage of which will go to ISF. Defenders and Warriors, another organization started in the wake of Somerhalder's Foundation, manned a booth. Atlanta 9th grader Dhayln Warren started a club at her high school and was on the scene to raise awareness. Additionally, Paws4ACause, which supports both ISF and The St. Tammany Humane Society, a cause close to Somerhalder's heart, worked tirelessly to raise cash - thus far they've raised approximately $20,000 between the two causes (though not exclusively at the EyeCon Event).

Additionally, VampireStalkers brought fans on location tours and is auctioning off a pair of handpainted Converse sneakers with proceeds going to the Foundation. Countless other fans contributed in their own special, creative ways throughout the event.

All in all, $40,000 is a conservative estimate of funds raised for the Foundation over the weekend. It's hard to measure that "collaborative spirit" that Somerhalder had hoped to inspire when he first began the Foundation, but after seeing the voice and motivation it's given to fans of all ages and backgrounds, it's safe to say that his initial goals are well within reach.

Whether or not you're a "Vampire Diaries" fan, you can get involved in Somerhalder's current movements. He recently raised his voice (via Twitter, of course) about the outdated and unnecessary seal hunting practice off the coast of Canada. The annual spring Canadian seal hunt, described as "primarily a fur hunt," began on the first day of spring. As ISF Kids' Army founder Devon tells us, the seals are killed in an inhumane manner.

You can protest this annual massacre by writing to Stephen Harper, current Prime Minister of Canada - which is easily done via this online template.   

Photo/Video credit: Natalie at http://paws-4-a-cause.org, Devon Haas