When a Pittsburgh cafe owner found himself unable to squirrel away enough money to keep his restaurant open, the furry community stepped up to help him bear his debt.
Every June since 2006, Fernando DeCarvalho of Fernando's Cafe has helped host Anthrocon, an annual event billed as "the world's largest furry convention."
The definition of a "furry" varies greatly, depending on who you're talking to. Anthrocon is geared towards people "fascinated with anthropomorphic, which are humanlike animal characters." Anthrocon's official website explains that the convention "is open to any and all who like to imagine what it would be like if animals could walk and talk as we do." While many attendees wear animal costumes, doing so is not a requirement.
Each year, DeCarvalho specially decorates his cafe for the convention, features animal-themed menu items, and even offers discounts to attendees. A posting on the Furry News Network credits DeCarvalho as "the first person in Pittsburgh to roll out the welcome mat for [Anthrocon]." A visit to the cafe, the author explains, has become "integral to the Anthrocon experience."
One year, when locals began harassing Anthrocon members the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports, DeCarvalho tried to intervene and wound up getting hit in the head with a brick. He suffered a fractured skull, but became a permanent hero to the furry community.
DeCarvalho's efforts have not gone unappreciated. That's why, when DeCarvalho found himself hit hard by the recession and planning to close his doors, Anthrocon CEO Samuel Conway initiated a campaign to raise money to help him out, according to the Gazette.
In April, DeCarvalho received more than $20,000 in donations from furries around the world, according to Flayrah. The sum will not save his business entirely, but it will alleviate some of his debt and allow him to keep his doors open long enough for one last Anthrocon.
"I believe God worked through the furries," said DeCarvalho, "because I was really in need."