Game of Thrones fans have raised more than $125,000 for charities supported by the show's stars in a bid to thank the actors for their performances in the beloved fantasy series.
A fundraising campaign in honor of actor Emilia Clarke, who played Daenerys Targaryen, has raised more than £80,000 (approximately $100,000) for the charity SameYou, of which she is the founder, over the past nine days.
The idea for the fundraising campaigns was born on Reddit, specifically /r/freefolk, an active, irreverent community of Game of Thrones fans with a reputation as the black sheep of the pages devoted to the show and the Song of Ice and Fire books. (As an example, this subreddit was also the source of the widely reported Change.org petition asking HBO to remake the show's final season — which members of the community said was created to be a tongue-in-cheek message to the show's writers and not a serious request.)
On May 22, three days after the show's final episode aired, Redditor elle_elaria posted a link in /r/freefolk to a campaign she'd started to raise money for SameYou, a brain injury rehabilitation charity that Clarke founded after having two life-threatening aneurysms while filming Game of Thrones.
In the fundraiser's description, elle_elaria, who told BuzzFeed News she would only like to be identified by her first name, Sarah, wrote that the campaign was "a gesture of love and support from the fandom to the entire cast & crew — but also particularly to the woman who poured her very soul into her character, who delivered passionate speeches in High Valyrian and Dothraki in between questioning her very mortality, and inspired so many of us with her resilience."
The campaign came to Clarke's attention on Thursday, when it had raised £38,000 ($48,000). The actor thanked Sarah personally and the members of the FreeFolk subreddit for their donations in an Instagram video.
"I can’t believe — I’m so incredibly moved and blown away and grateful and thank you and thank you and thank you," she said. "It’s extraordinary what you guys have done."
In the caption, she apologized for the "rambling video" and said that she was speechless by her fans' generosity.
"[The fundraising campaign] has made my day, week, month, year, decade, and I couldn’t think of a more beautiful way to wave goodbye to the mother of dragons than with this step towards making brain injury sufferers feel less alone."
In an email to BuzzFeed News Friday, Sarah said she "couldn’t believe it" when she saw that Clarke had made a video for her and the /r/freefolk community — and that the actor updated her Instagram profile with #JusticeForDaenerys, the campaign page's URL, and a link the fundraiser.
"She didn’t need to do that. She could have just casually reposted it with a quick written comment, but she took the time to film a heartfelt thank you," Sarah said. "Iconic. My only regret is not having a more embarrassing username for her to shout out."
Inspired by the success of Clarke's fundraiser and the recent news that Kit Harington had checked into a wellness retreat in the wake of the series finale, on Friday another /r/freefolk member, AlpineJ0e, created a fundraising page so fans could donate to charity in honor of the actor.
Harington is an ambassador for Mencap, a UK-based charity that "works to support people with a learning disability, their families and carers by fighting to change laws, improve services and access to education, employment and leisure facilities." In the past, he's spoken about his cousin Laurent, who has a learning disability, and how their relationship inspired him to work with the charity.
"This fundraiser is here to show Kit that we're incredibly thankful to him for the sheer amount of love and skill he put into Jon Snow for us to enjoy," reads the fundraiser's description.
Mencap's official Twitter account has already thanked the fans for the their donations in Harington's honor.
Members of /r/freefolk have also posted links to charities supported by other Game of Thrones actors, so fans can make donations in their names as well.