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Announcing The Whovian Travel Fund...

[Whovian Travel Fund Banner]

So you ask, just what is the Whovian Travel Fund? Well, it's something new we're starting that's a not-for-profit fund raising effort, and it's got it's history in some nice things that we (and you) have already done so far.

It started a few years ago when one of our regular Doctor Who Cruise repeat members (who asked to remain anonymous & we've honored that wish) had to cancel his trip at the last minute and was too late to meet the cruise line's cancellation deadline. Rather than just see his already paid for room go to waste, he asked us if we could find a deserving fan who could use it instead of him. We paid the processing fees to transfer the reservation, and selected a local Florida long-time Doctor Who fan who'd had a particularly difficult time to give it to. That's how it came to pass that British-American former actor John Messenger, a cancer survivor who also lost half his roof in Hurricane Wilma, was able to join us on one of the Doctor Who cruises. He sailed along with us, played The Master alongside celebrity guests Carole Ann Ford & Verity Lambert in that cruise's Video Workshop Production "Doctor Who - A Happy Ending", saw the sights, had an amazingly good time, and never stopped thanking us for it until he sadly lost his fight for life six months later.

[John acts a scene with Carole]

[From DVD cover of A Happy Ending]

Last year we did something special again when we started a fundraising effort to pay the cost of bringing newleywed Doctor Who fans Jenny & Ed Comstock (pictured below, with the cruise group & alone) on the cruise for their honeymoon. Jenny is a long-time survivor of a decades old battle with AIDS and Ed is a miracle survivor of multiple emergency heart conditions. In a celebration of life that had every eye in the room tearing up, they were married in a public ceremony at the Gallifrey One Doctor Who convention, and then spent their honeymoon aboard the Who Cruise the next day. Generous donations from many online fans, both friends & strangers alike, helped us to not only meet, but to exceed our fundraising goal (with all excess funds carying over to help pay some of the couple's other travel expenses.)

[Formal Night Group Picture From The Cruise]

[The Happy Couple Relaxing Aboard Ship On Formal Night]

We'd like to try and do something special like this every year if we can, and that's where the Whovian Travel Fund comes in. We're going to start by selecting one deserving fan to be our initial beneficiary, and we're going to ask YOU to nominate other people, they could be your friend, your family, or even yourself, just tell us who, and why you think they deserve it, and we will try to raise enough money to fill a room on this year's cruise and pick as many deserving fans from your nominations as the funds will allow. Fans participating in the World Science Fiction Society's annual Worldcon conventions (the guys who give out the Hugo awards) have been successfully doing several similar funds for decades now (the TAFF or Trans Atlantic Fan Fund & the DUFF or Down Under Fan Fund, for example) and there should be no reason why our fandom can't do it too.

[MSC Lirica Our Ship For 2009]

[Sci-Fi Sea Cruise Logo Banner Link]

[Paul Cordsmeyer with Jon Pertwee]

As our initial beneficiary, we've selected an old friend whom some of you may know from the early days of American Doctor Who fandom back in the 1980s. Paul Cordsmeyer (pictured above with Jon Pertwee) was the co-founder and long-time chairman of Omnicon, one of the first annually recurring Doctor Who oriented conventions, held in South Florida every February from 1980 - 1988. Paul is pretty much a founding father of Who fandom on this side of the Pond, and was my mentor, giving me my start in helping to run conventions when I was still in high school. He mortgaged his house half a dozen times over a decade to help pay the convention's expenses but still managed to keep things going OK, until Hurricane Andrew blew that house, and most of his possessions, to bits. He recovered from that setback and relocated to where he is now living retired, along the Canadian border in Washington, but has in the last couple of years been fighting with Cancer. So far he's winning that fight, and not about to give up, and I've picked him as the first beneficiary for the WTF. How are we going to pick the next beneficiary, and the next, and so on? That's where your nominations come in. Anyone donating $25 or more to the fund may submit a name for nomination, be it themself, a friend or relative, or anyone for any reason. Final selection of beneficiaries from the pool of submitted nominees is solely at the discretion of the the Sci-Fi Sea Cruise management. Should anyone we select be unable to accept the offer due to date conflicts or any other reasons, we will put their name back into the nominee pool and move on to another selection, until someone accepts who is able to meet the nececary travel dates for the event. As long as we do raise enough funds to cover the travel expenses, beneficiaries will continue to be selected, and any unused funds short of covering another beneficiary in advance of one year's event will be carried over to the start of fund raising for the next year's event.

I'm Dan Harris, the person in charge of organizing these cruises, and I'm going to start the ball rolling with my own donation of $100 to the Whovian Travel Fund. You can make YOUR donations in one of three ways, either by sending a check or money order, payable to Peter Berlin's Travel Center, to P.O. Box 936135, Margate, Florida, 33093-6135 or making a PayPal payment to my own PayPal account at whocruiser@aol.com (please mention that it's for the Whovian Travel Fund), or you can phone up our travel agent, Sam Guess, at Peter Berlin's Travel Center at 800-874-6040 toll-free in the USA or 954-974-6040 from outside the USA, to use a credit card directly with the travel agency (once again, please mention that it's for the Whovian Travel Fund.) I will regularly update the list of donations as they come in, and you may request to remain anonymous if you prefer to do so. So let's get this thing going, and see once again what caring Doctor Who fans can do for one another.

We estimate that it should cost about $1800 to cover Paul's expenses, and a little less than that, perhaps $1500, to put a second nominee into the room with him, and even less, maybe only another $1200, to cover the next, as the per person rates go down with more sharing a room, so perhaps three beneficiaries for a total of about $4500. I think we can do it if we all chip in.

Donations So Far:

Dan Harris $100
Heather & Charles Martin $80
Barry Rosenfeld $275
Anne Sedell $20
TRI (The South Florida Dr Who Club) $80
Emma Abraham $25
Jack Beven $600
Total - $1180.00 as of 23 April 09
So we currently have about 65.5% of the $1800 needed for the first person in the room, or about 26.2% of the $4500 needed for three.

[Paul In The Bar Aboard The Cruise]

[Group Shot On Formal Dress Night]

Despite falling short of the goal, we still managed to raise almost two thirds of it, and I did go ahead and bring Paul along with us on the cruise, making up the difference out of my own pocket. He had a great time, as did we all, and as we move on to the next cruise in 2010, hopefully we will be able to raise enough in donations to fully support bringing along one or more deserving fellow travelers from Doctor Who fandom. Thank you to all who made donations, as well as to all those who could not but still offered their encouragement and moral support.

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