Comic-Con just had an incredibly emotional and inspiring moment—and it was a complete and total surprise. It happened during the Supernatural panel, and there wasn't a dry eye in the packed house.
The CW series ended its panel with the packed audience of more than 7,000 fans holding up candles for star Jared Padalecki's Always Keep Fighting campaign. Padelecki recently opened up about his battle with depression, and started the Always Keep Fighting campaign to help people struggling with depression, self-injury, addiction and suicide. The surprise candle moment came about in support of his AKF campaign.
"I'm holding the candle in my pocket right now, I can't let go of it," Padelecki told E! News moments ago, right after the panel. "At first I didn't know what it is. I thought people were holding up their iPhones or something. And then someone handed me the note explaining it and I found out what was really going on. It took everything in my power not to cry."
Along with the candles that were passed out to the crowd came a note: "Everyone is given a candle that burns just for them. When your flame flickers and you fear it will go out, know not seven the strongest wind lasts forever; and there are other lights to guide you even in the Darkness…And when your candle burns bright, you can ignite the hearts of others and hope will spread like wildfire…Always Keep Fighting, and you'll never fight alone."
"I just want to say thank you, so much," Padalecki told us of his message to the fans who organized the candle surprise. "It's stuff that I have dealt with and I'm still dealing with so it means so much to me. I hope the fans feel support from me the way I feel support from them. I love them all very much. I really do. Fight for each other. Love each other. Always keep fighting."
"I'm so humbled," he added, wiping away a tear. "With the Always Keep Fighting campaign, it feels a lot like it's grown into something bigger than I ever could have imagined. And it's the same with the show, and this character and guys I've been working with for 11 years now. It's so cool and so, so humbling. I feel like I'm the old guy here! I've been here for 11 years doing Comic-Con but it's such a cool experience. I mean, this is what I dreamed of as a kid. I am so, so humbled."
The card along with the candle asked audience members to raise their candle when signaled during the panel to "show the people who inspire us, and the community we've built, what we can accomplish together." The moment came, and it was truly an awe-inspiring sight to see thousands of candles light up throughout the enormous and packed Hall H. The Supernatural fans rose to the occasion, and the moment Padalecki realized what the meaning of the candles was, the look on his face said it all. Audience members were then asked to share their stories and photos with the hashtags #AKFHallH and #AlwaysKeepFighting on Twitter.
Jared's onscreen brother Jensen Ackles tells us he was also floored by the fan support.
"I thought there was like a rock band about to come out that I didn't know about," Ackles told E! News moments ago. "I was like, ‘What is going on? What is happening right now?' But it's just this continuing thing. I'm astonished at the support that these fans give Jared and give us on the show, day in and day out. And it just seems to keep growing, on both sides. Jared and I talk about it, Misha [Collins] and I talk about it, we all talk about this relationship that has formed between the fans and us."
He continued, "It's taken off over the past several years and it truly shows....Something that we have that other shows don't have is a tangible relationship with our fans. We see them on a regular basis, we do these Supernatural conventions, we hug them, we smile with them, we cry with them. And it's genuine! We go there with true intent to listen to them and be there with and for them. It's truly a special thing."
Padalecki started Always Keep Fighting to benefit To Write Love on Her Arms, an organization which helps people struggling with depression, self-injury, addiction and suicide.
"I, for a long time, have been passionate about people dealing with mental illness and struggling with depression, or addiction, or having suicidal thoughts and, strangely enough, it's almost like the life I live, as well. These characters that we play on Supernatural, Sam and Dean, are always dealing with something greater than themselves, and I've sort of learned from the two of them that they get through it with each other, and with help and with support," he recently explained to Variety. "And I, in the past, have had my own struggles of not [being] so happy with where I am in life, which is strange and I think it goes to show. … Maybe a lot of people don't know this, but Season 3, we were shooting an episode, and I went back to my trailer to get changed and just kind of broke down."
In the craziness that comes with all the announcements and stunts at Comic-Con, there was nothing that compared to seeing an entire fandom come together like the Supernatural fans did during the panel.
If you or someone you know needs help, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).