The Summer When Numbers Resonated

By Jason BladesSeptember 2, 2011

This year marked our fifth year as a part of VANS Warped Tour.  The tour saw approximately 500,000 people across 44 cities. All of these people came out to see some 400+ total bands play over 440 hours of music. We encountered 4 severe storms, and our highest temperature was 109 degrees in Phoenix, AZ (although the rest of the summer seemed just as hot).  

In addition, here are some other numbers taken from the “FACTS” page of our website that I would like you to consider:

121 million people worldwide suffer from depression, and 18 million of these cases are happening in the United States.

Between 20% and 50% of children and teens struggling with depression have a family history of this struggle and the offspring of depressed parents are more than three times as likely to suffer from depression.

2/3 of those suffering from depression never seek treatment.

Untreated depression is the number one cause of suicide, and suicide is the third leading cause of death among teenagers.

Our goal as an organization, both in the office and on the road, is to reach people who are struggling in whatever ways we can to reduce all of these staggering numbers and statistics and work toward erasing the stigma that surrounds depression, addiction, self-injury, and suicide. We have spent the last 5 summers setting up a tent everyday through all sorts of conditions with the hope that we can connect with the people attending Warped Tour and begin to change those statistics. If we are able to communicate our message and help one person, then all of our effort has been well worth it.

This summer we incorporated a new way to make these connections with our Fears vs. Dreams Campaign. Our goal with FvD is to invite people to answer two questions: “what is your biggest fear?” and “what is your greatest dream?” We wanted to encourage people to share their words and maybe feel less alone in reading the words of others.  Our aim was that their experience would be more than just a moment at a table. We wanted to remind people that they are living a story that is their own and is entirely unique. Our hope with FvD is to allow people the opportunity to talk about things that really matter to them. 

The response to this project was greater and far more beautiful then we could have ever expected or imagined. We found a way to display all of the cards filled out every day for people to read, see, and share.  By the end of the summer we received between 10,000-15,000 cards. Each one of those cards represents someone, a living and breathing person, who was not afraid to own who they are. It represents someone brave enough to share part of the story they are living. It represents hope. That bravery and hope is the reason we were able to meet so many people this summer. Anyone who got the chance to walk by our table covered with filled out FvD cards got to see all of those fears and dreams in one place, and it was so moving and intriguing and inspiring. People who have never heard of TWLOHA before would stop because they were curious. Once we explained our project, they often couldn’t wait to participate and add part of their stories to the mix.

Our summer could not have gone any better, and I feel really proud saying that. I feel really proud saying that Fears vs. Dreams on Warped Tour was a success because of everyone that took part. For all of you who decided to be vulnerable and own your fears and dreams at the booth or on Twitter or just quietly with yourself, thank you for being a part of our story. Thank you for sending us photos of your fears and dreams written by your own hand. Thank you for your honesty. Thank you for being brave enough and for letting your words provide comfort and hope to others. Thank you for your curiosity. Thank you for caring. Thank you. 

I will see you soon,

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