Meet Our Patron: Jason Manns

Name: Jason Manns
Role: Patron of Random Acts
Location: Bowling Green, Virginia

Musician Jason Manns prides himself on being an “early adopter” of Random Acts.

As a part of the extended SPN Family via his old friend Jensen Ackles, Jason has been a musical guest on the Supernatural convention circuit since day 1. Literally – the first ever convention to feature the cast also included Jason, and his influence has helped shape Supernatural conventions into the unique and joyful musical experience we know and love.

Jason’s presence in the Supernatural community over the past decade has allowed him to watch Random Acts come into being under the vision of our founder Misha Collins and grow into the organization we are today, and he has been there every step of the way as one of our most faithful friends and supporters, from raising money via his music to helping Random Acts volunteers lug boxes and move tables at conventions.

As a singer-songwriter, Jason has put his talents to work for Random Acts over the years, doing whatever he could to help us with fundraising, hosting Stageits and livestreams (including that memorable Christmas concert that resulted in a cool $50,000 in donations from fans and supporters) to raise money in the name of conquering the world with kindness.

And in 2013, Jason was able to join Misha and Random Acts staff and volunteers on our final Dreams2Acts trip to Haiti for the opening ceremony of the Jacmel Children’s Center. Like so many of our volunteers who have journeyed to one of our Dreams2Acts destinations, seeing just how profoundly this project changes the lives of young people in need was an experience that left Jason with a shifted perspective on what being a part of this kind of charity work really means.

Hope2Haiti

Haiti was the first time that I saw the physical manifestation of the stuff that we were doing. I always love helping out with charity, but to a certain extent fundraising is easy. It still takes a commitment and you still have to expend the energy to do it, but physically speaking it’s easy, it’s not physically taxing. And so when I got to Haiti and I saw the buildings that were built with that money and I saw the kids whose lives will be forever changed with that money, that really brought it home in a way that I had not experienced before.”

“I’m always happy when I can to jump in and play a few songs for a fundraiser or retweet something, all that stuff, but after having gone there and seen that, I was inspired by a little bit more to rather than just be a nice guy and help out when I can, to really be inspired by all of the life changing stuff that Random Acts does and try to dig in a little bit more and do more than just what I had been doing.”

Jason plays for children in Haiti.

The team, including Jason, spent their time helping put the finishing touches on the Jacmel Children’s Center before its grand opening – cleaning, painting and so on – and also visited some of the work being done by other organizations that Random Acts were supporting in Haiti. But at the Children’s Center, Jason was able to connect with the children who were being cared for, even playing some music for them, and he was left inspired by their smiles and hope, as well as by being able to witness the power for good when the money he had helped to raise was being put to work.

Jason’s support of the Jacmel Children’s Center has continued in the years since he took this trip, and he has continued to donate a portion of the proceeds from the physical copies of his album “Recovering With Friends”. And in January of this year, Jason teamed up with Justin Guarini to produce and release a charity single – a cover of Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come,” a song by one of Jason’s favorite artists, with a message he deemed apropos – with 100% of the takings going towards the ongoing maintenance of the Center.

The Bad Idea Tour

In November 2018, Jason was an integral part of helping Random Acts in our biggest Endure4Kindness campaign yet, which culminated in our founder Misha Collins, executive director Rachel Miner, and other Supernatural cast members running the Amica Seattle Marathon to raise money for the organization. Jason tells us all about how the marathon turned from a solo Misha endeavor into what we would come to know as ‘The Bad Idea Tour.’

The conversation initially came about when, somewhere on the road at a convention, Jason was chatting to Misha about how he’d gotten out of the habit of working out, and how he wanted to get back in. Reminiscing on the group’s Tough Mudder experience a few years ago, Jason explained the mindset how of knowing he had a goal to work towards helped his fitness drive. “‘I want to put something on the calendar,’” he mused at the time. “‘We need to do another Tough Mudder or run a race or … I was thinking maybe I would run a marathon, even, just because I know that would scare me.’”

“And then Misha said ‘I’m running a marathon! I’m running a marathon in Seattle.’ And I said ‘I’ll run it with you.’ And he was like ‘Really?!’ And then the way he said ‘really?’ made me suddenly realize that I had probably said too much.”

Jason was the first person to commit to running the Amica Seattle Marathon alongside Misha in support of Random Acts, and as they discussed their new plans in the greenroom, they were overheard by Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki. The way that Jason tells it, the reaction from the other Supernatural cast members when Misha revealed that he and Jason would be running a marathon together was one that sounded a lot like dismayed resignation. As in: “Aw man – if he’s doing it, there’s no excuse for us not to do it.” And thus, the Bad Idea Tour was born.

Bad Idea Tour Team – from left: Co-Founder Misha Collins, Jensen Ackles, Jason Manns, Rob Benedict, Board Member Genevieve Padalecki and her husband Jared, and in the front, Executive Director Rachel Miner.

Jason’s dedication to training in the months before the marathon was something that stood out to everyone on the team and all the supporters following the team’s preparation process. “I was a lot further away from being able to run a marathon than any of the other people who ran a marathon, so I started a lot earlier. I wasn’t intense [about it] I was just consistent. I wasn’t crazy about it, I just checked the box every day. I just ran when I was supposed to run – slowly. I would walk when I needed to walk, I wasn’t worried about my time, I just didn’t want to hurt myself.”

When the big day rolled around, Jason was actually pretty calm about all the unusual facets of his first marathon experience. First of all, fifteen years on the road with Misha Collins and the Supernatural cast has prepared him for all the bells and whistles of a beloved fandom community.

“It’s weird to say this but there’s an aspect of normalcy in this day and age of doing things with doing things with Misha and Jensen and Jared, to which the abnormal becomes normal. You know that if those guys are involved it;s going to be epic, it’s going to be a Thing. On the day, I expected that there would be fans with signs and I expected that there would be people running with us – it’s still amazing to see it and it still touched me, every person that was standing there with a sign or water or just clapping, I absolutely loved it and it was amazing to see that people had flown out to support.”

Secondly, a marathon can be a slog – physically and mentally. It is not uncommon to feel overwhelmed by the endurance task you have set yourself and get into a weird head space. But Jason had it on lock – in terms of the psychology of running a marathon, he wasn’t phased. “I had done the work, so I wasn’t afraid,” he explains – a good mantra to live by, probably.

#RANoHungryChild

The team’s pledge to run the Seattle Marathon as part of Random Acts’ annual Endure 4 Kindness fundraising campaign took on a specific focus. With the help of Random Acts supporters, the Bad Idea Tour would be attempting to kick the ass of a terrifying adversary: childhood hunger.

Throughout 2019, Random Acts has pledged to find ways to combat food insecurity for families in the poorest counties in America and in regions all around the world. In the United States, as many as 1 in 6 children are affected by the food insecurity crisis, and the runners became well versed in the grave details as they prepared for the race and raised money for this cause.

“[Before the campaign] I don’t know that I was aware of the percentage of kids who sincerely don’t know where their next meal is coming from,” Jason reflects. “It’s shocking and it’s such a worthy cause, because it’s not the kids’ fault. A lot of times it’s not the parents’ fault either, but you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that it’s not the kids’ fault. So the fact that any child would have to deal with that or grow up with that in the richest country in the world…”

Jason plays “Wagon Wheel”. Image courtesy Holli DeWees

Recently, conscious of the disparity in his very own hometown, Jason brought an idea to us at Random Acts – he wanted to host a free outdoor gig which would function as a food drive, within his local area of Caroline County in Virginia, and he knew that Random Acts would want to sponsor the event. He told us about the research he did that drove him to take action in his community.

“I grew up in Caroline, and I was aware of the fact that it’s a kind of an economically depressed area compared to a lot of the other places in Virginia. So I was curious to know the specifics of it and I called Social Services and I called a couple of other places, spoke to people in town in the government, and I was kind of surprised to learn just how much our county is one of the poorer counties around. We’ve got a lot of people who rely on the food bank and it’s not very well supported, and so I was just excited to be able to do something locally and hopefully help some folks.”

Jason’s food drive for Caroline County took place in May, with the help of Regional Representative April Vian. It was set up as a full day affair in a local park, where people could drop in and spend the day helping to fight childhood hunger with Jason and Random Acts – a picnic slash miniature carnival, with games, activities, and of course, music. You can read more about the events and achievements of the day on our news feed, but Jason was keen to reminisce.

“It was really fun. It was a perfect day outside, and it was mainly friends and family and Supernatural fans that came together for the cause. It was Random Acts doing good stuff and people showing up to support that. I played a show in the morning and I played a show in the afternoon, it was very laid back and chill. We got a lot of food for the food bank, which was awesome, and I had a really good time!”

Helping People to Help Themselves

When we do these monthly Random Acts ‘Origin Stories,’ we always like to ask our staffers about their pipe dream projects that they would love to one day see Random Acts get involved with – the personal causes that brought them into the world of charity volunteering or the issues they most want to draw attention to. As one of our most engaged patrons, Jason had some interesting ideas about that question himself, in terms of the direction of charitable giving that he is keen to get involved with in the future.

“I have always felt drawn to the kinds of things that help people with life-bettering lessons. Whether it’s tutoring kids, whether it’s doing financial education for young adults, whether it’s literacy – empowering them to be more functional. It’s just something I really appreciate and if I’m comparing or trying to find something to support I always go towards the something that [evokes] that ‘Teach a man to fish…’ mentality.”

Jason is of course also interested in the idea of things relating to music or musical therapy, and continues to be enthusiastic about using his talent to help others in whatever way he can.

‘I’m always happy to lend a hand and use what I got to try to help. You guys always do amazing work and it’s the only charity I’ve seen brought to fruition, physically laid hands on the building you built with what we helped raise, so it’s always my go-to.”

Thank you so much for your ongoing and very dedicated support, Jason!