Whether it’s visiting a sick child in a hospital, holding up secret signs outside of The Today Show, taking photos outside of landmarks with signs of positivity, or hosting a business meeting underwater, GISHWHES, The Greatest International Scavenger Hunt the World Has Ever Seen, embodies the strange and fun nature many New Yorkers possess while shining a light on problems in the world and working toward remedying them. GISHWHES was created by Misha Collins, the actor who plays Castiel in the TV show Supernatural. When Collins was at the University of Chicago, he took part in the annual scavenger hunt, which became the inspiration for GISHWHES. The goal behind Misha’s online international scavenger hunt was to break a world record and get as many people from all around the world to participate.
With Misha’s massive fan base, GISHWHES achieved the initial goal of breaking the record for “Largest Media Scavenger Hunt” with over 14 thousand participants and went on to break the record for “The Longest Chain of Safety Pins” with over 3 thousand pins, the “Largest Online Photo Album of Hugs” with over a 100 thousand photos, and most important to Misha, the “Most Pledges to Complete a Random Act of Kindness” with over 90 thousand pledges. GISHWHES isn’t just a fun event, the hunt was also created to act as the biggest annual fundraiser for Collins’ charity, Random Acts. Collins often recounts his childhood when he was living in poverty and was homeless for a time. One Christmas, his mother didn’t have enough money to buy the family gifts and a stranger paid for them. That moment has always stuck with Collins and he began his charity to focus on small and big random acts of kindness that make people’s day or lives a little easier.
Every year, GISHWHES chooses one massive project for the scavenger hunt to fund. In addition to all registration costs going toward Random Acts, one item on the list called for donations for Dancescape, a ballet school in Zolani, an impoverished area of South Africa. The school was created by Fiona Sargeant to empower and bring hope to the children of Zolani. When Fiona was diagnosed with terminal cancer, the fate of her school was unknown. GISHWHES participants raised over 200 thousand dollars to ensure that Fiona Sargeant’s legacy will continue for years to come.
When the list of GISHWES tasks is released, teams scramble to complete the list of bizarre, impossible, and heartwarming tasks that they must take videos of and photograph. Much like many New Yorkers, Gishers, as participants of the scavenger hunt are fondly called, are a group of people passionate about charity, breaking through the boundaries of normal, and testing their own courage and limits. Collins announced mid-registration that this GISHWHES would be the last “as we know it,” so the stakes were high and emotions were heightened as teams raced against the clock to complete the 200 plus tasks Misha had laid out.
Here are 28 bizarre and heartwarming items from Misha Collins’ Final 2017 GISHWHES.
28. Item #80: The Today Show Signs
Item #80: You’ve all seen dog shaming memes on the internets. You know that crowd that lines up at the plaza of The Today Show and shows up on air? Let’s take it over with gisher-self-shaming signs. Hold up a large, colorful sign that details something you did that you probably shouldn’t have done (for example, “I drank milk straight from the carton and put it back in the fridge without telling my roommates.”) Make it a light-hearted trivial violation, not a deep-seated personality flaw, actual violation of the law, or serious offense. Show us a clip with ACTUAL AIRED FOOTAGE that shows tour team’s sign and in the comments section of the item let us know which sign was yours. Do not add your team name or “gishwhes” anywhere on the sign… we want this to be a mystery.
Many GISHWHES items are location-based and can only be completed if the participant lives in that area or has connections there. New York City gishers were thrilled to have an item right in their backyard and it’s visible in the video that more than one team was present at The Today Show holding up their self-shame signs. Team Death’s_Deep_Dish was ashamed of singing and winning more fake arguments in the shower than actually… showering.