Joe Ripple Interview
Written by Steve Pattee
Joe Ripple is a horror film director (Stakes, Vampire Sisters), and a retired police officer/detective. He currently is a Corporate Security Manager for a Fortune 500 Company, and is the Founder and CEO of "Scares That Care!" He resides in Maryland with his wife Michelle and daughter Lauren. He took some time to sit down with HorrorTalk and discuss his charity "Scares That Care!"
Steve Pattee: When was "Scares That Care!" established?
Joe Ripple: I founded “Scares That Care!” back in 2006. I had just lost my business partner to cancer and at the time he was the caregiver of his 53-year-old mentally challenged sister. We had a benefit in his honor and donated all of the proceeds to the family. With my ties to the horror community, I knew that this charity was something that the horror community could embrace…something they would be proud to be a part of. As a horror filmmaker and the head of security for a major horror convention, I’ve had the opportunity to speak to many fans – all of whom I found to be supportive and generous. Thus, “Scares That Care!” was born.
SP: Can you describe your logo and what it represents?
JR: When it came to designing the logo, I wanted it to demonstrate several things. First – assistance, aid or help. Next, it had to represent the horror community. And when I say the “horror community,” I mean ALL things that are associated with anything deemed “spooky.” Movies, books, haunted houses, paranormal, etc. Then, lastly, it had to show our commitment to sick children. Our black cross represents not only aid, but also the horror community. Once I had the idea of the black cross, I contacted a good friend of mine who is also an artist – Ted Dastick. I told him my thoughts and he came up with the monster hand reaching out to the child’s hand. We added the words, and our logo was born.
SP: About six months ago you started "Scares for Pairs". What's the idea behind that, and how did it come about?
JR: I’m looking for ways that the horror community can constantly be of assistance to someone who needs it. Not only do we assist sick children, but as many horror fans know, one of the staples of horror films is female nudity. It seems like that there is always at least a topless scene in many horror films and I felt it only right to want to acknowledge that aspect with our charity. “Scares For Pairs” was born and is a subsidiary program or “branch” of “Scares That Care!” This program identifies a woman struggling with breast cancer and provides some relief for them and their families.
SP: In June of 2011, "Scares that Care!" teamed up with horror icon Kane Hodder to help burn victims. How did that happen?
JR: We were contacted by Mike Aloisi, who is the writer for Kane’s biography Unmasked. Mike stated that Kane wanted to partner with a charity that assisted burn victims – but had been turned down by many burn units after they found out what type of characters he had portrayed on film. Thus, our third and final branch of “Scares That Care!” was born. The “I Helped Kane” program allows us to identify a child or adult who has been severely burned and provide them with some type of monetary relief.
SP: How much has "Scares That Care!" raised so far, and who have been the recipients?
JR: To date, we have raised and donated $10,000 to the John Hopkins Childrens Cancer Center, $10,000 to the Kennedy-Krieger Institute, $10,000 to the “Make-A-Wish” Foundation, and $2,500 to the Troia Family as an emergency donation for assistance.
SP: Your goal for the past few years has been to raise $10,000 for one charity, but for 2012 you've upped the ante and want to raise $10,000 for three different causes. How hard is it to run three different charity drives concurrently?
JR: Surprisingly, it’s not that difficult, because the three branches of the charity fall under one umbrella. If someone makes a donation earmarked for one of our specific families, we will make sure that donation is tallied for that family. If we get a general donation, we will split the donation three ways. Other than that, it’s more so just driving forward to the overall goal of $30,000.
SP: What are the causes for 2012?
JR: Well, I’ll try to keep this from playing on people’s guilt and emotions that so many commercials seem to try and play on – we don’t do that. We strive for positivity at all times. Our three families consist of Draven, who has Hypo-plastic Left Heart Syndrome and needs a heart transplant, Maddie is fighting breast cancer, and Tripp and his father were burned over seventy percent of their bodies, with the father recently passing away.
SP: You were very excited when you got your 501(c)(3) charity forms approved. What does that mean for "Scares That Care!"?
JR: It’s just another level of legitimacy that I have always wanted this charity to possess. It’s difficult to run a charity such as ours because of the genre that the charity is based in. I want people to look at us and see that yes – we may enjoy the spookier side of life, but that we care just as much – if not more – than most people do. Going through the process to become IRS approved was necessary to me because that means the people who donate to us will get the same tax break as if they had donated to one of the other major charities.
SP: One thing I see you mention a lot is that 100% of the money raised goes to those that need it, so "Scares That Care!" is obviously a 100% volunteer organization. How many volunteers do you have and what are their roles?
JR: We currently have about forty-two active volunteers. This consists of me, our Board of Directors, Department Heads, and State Representatives.
SP: How many states currently have representatives? What states?
JR: We have twenty nine representatives in twenty three states across the country. States can have more than one representative, based on size of the state. We have Representatives in Maine, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Maryland, North and South Carolina, Florida, Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, Colorado, Utah, California and Oregon.
SP: What qualifications are you looking for those interested in a state or territory representative? How do they apply for the job?
SP: What are the ways people can donate to "Scares That Care!"?
JR: Obviously, we are looking for monetary donations. But if people have autographed props or swag, we will take those items as well. We then use those items to auction or raffle off to raise funds for the families we are trying to help.
SP: What's the worst part of running a charity?
JR: Having to commit to a full time day job makes running the charity difficult, but it’s not the worst part. The worst part is trying to raise money for a family, only to find out that you didn’t raise the cash fast enough before the loss of that loved one. Even if that happens, our commitment to that family remains the same. It’s also a little disheartening to get a message from somebody telling you they can’t donate, yet their very next message on Facebook or Twitter brags about how they just bought concert tickets, or hit the liquor store for a major party. I can’t blame them in some respect – most charitable dollars go to pay salaries and the like. I just have to convince them that does not happen here.
SP: The best?
JR: Being able to represent every horror fan in giving back when we present the checks to the families or organizations.
SP: What are your future goals for "Scares That Care!"?
JR: People need to understand that I am very passionate about this charity and those who support it. Right now, we are only able to help three families. My ultimate goal is to be able to help three families each year in each state across the country. Turn our State Representatives into State Chapters. That’s my ultimate goal.
We'd like to thank Joe Ripple for his time with us and encourage you to check out "Scares That Care!" at some of the links below and donate to a great cause.
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