Change The Ref brings Guacathon to the Metaverse, a celebration of the life of Joaquin “Guac” Oliver

Change The Ref brings Guacathon to the Metaverse, a celebration of the life of Joaquin "Guac" Oliver

The event takes place on Roblox and includes a virtual performance by the rapper Denzel Curry and a collaboration with street artist Shepard Fairey, as well as mini-games and virtual goods for a cause

LOS ANGELES, August 2, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — As of 2020, the family of Joaquin “Guac” Oliver has been hosting a lively birthday celebration for him, dubbed the “Guacathon,” riffing on Joaquin’s nickname “Guac” and making it an annual tradition after Joaquin’s murder on Parkland, FL school shooting.

Joaquin’s parents Manuel and Patricia Oliver, vocal advocates of creative activism and youth empowerment for common sense gun laws, want more young people to experience the fun and celebrate Joaquin’s birthday and life – and make a positive impact on their world. To do this, they and the organization they founded, Change Ref, they included the leading development studio metaverse MELON to bring Guacathon to Roblox on August 4, 2022.

On August 4Joaquin’s 22nd birthday, the celebration will take place in Guacathon. A personal, exclusive event will follow this day’s celebration in New York Citywith invitees who are close friends and allies Patricia and Manuel Oliverwho were invited to this gathering to commemorate their son’s life and continued legacy and activism.

Guacathon will take place as a virtual urban festival, full of people listening to music, interacting with art and shooting baskets. Fiercely independent Miami– raised the MC Denzel Curry will perform on the main stage, bringing to the stage songs from his latest album, the acclaimed Melt My Eyez See Your Future, as well as his legendary back catalogue. Curry has worked closely with some of music’s most exciting names, from rap titans like Ross Ross and T-Pain, the idiosyncratic bass maestro Thundercat and legendary producer Robert Glasper, among others. He recently appeared on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert and performed show stopping freestyles for Funk Flex and the LA Leakers. She saw 2022 Denzel Curry cemented himself as one of rap’s most vital names after a decade-long rise from underground icon.

“There was a lot of misuse of weapons United States that have taken the lives of so many, I have lost many friends and family members to gun violence,” notes Curry. “Today is not a sad day for Joaquin’s family…today is a day when we celebrate Joaquin’s life to the fullest to show that his legacy will never be forgotten and that brighter days await us.”

Around the virtual party on the block, members of the Roblox community will be able to see a new portrait of Joaquin, created by the legendary underground artist and viral phenomenon Shepard Fairey, whose ubiquitous OBEY campaign and Obama HOPE poster design influenced and moved millions. In addition, Fairey’s work has been exhibited in museums such as MOMA and Victoria and Albert. This is Fairey’s first interactive public art project on Roblox.

“I saw how art could change the conversation and bring us together in politically and culturally meaningful ways,” notes Fairey. “I’m eager to see the same thing play out in the metaverse and see if we can start a new conversation about gun safety and the violence that is being driven by young people who are too often affected by it.”

Along with performances and participatory art experiences, the Guacathon will also feature custom mini-games that reflect Joaquin’s loves, including street art and basketball. Paint Zone allows visitors to grab a virtual can of spray paint and compete in a race to mark as many areas as possible and score as many points as possible. Hoop Jam challenges sports fans to beat the clock and make increasingly difficult shots. In both minigames, contestants earn tokens that can be used to unlock virtual merchandise commemorating the event, including a Roblox version of Guaco’s guitar and a special Guaco jersey. All proceeds from this sale go to change the ref. In addition, Shepard Fairey and Denzel Curry will be offering several special virtual items, with half of the proceeds from the sale of these items going to change the ref.

In celebrating Joaquin’s life, the Olivers want to highlight the role young people can play in speaking up and supporting meaningful change in their communities. “We won’t have a moment of silence. We’re having a party,” explains Joaquin’s mother, Patricia. “I’m thankful for the metaverse, for having a place where my son can help people connect and share his life. I want his peers to enjoy a party in his honor and befriend the metaverse itself.”

Most importantly, Joaquin will appear as an avatar at his family’s request throughout the experience, serving as inspiration for the festivities. It reflects Change the Ref’s belief that we can change our relationship to gun violence and security through positive, skillful work together. This metaversal edition of Guacathon continues several years of technologically advanced virtual events hosted by celebrities on platforms such as Facebook Live and Twitch, all of which reflect this commitment to creative activism and youth empowerment.

“It’s an honor to work with the Oliver family and bring Joaquin into the metaverse. Manuel and Patricia’s strength and love for life is the inspiration that started this project,” he notes. Josh Neuman, co-founder and co-executive director of the company MELON. “We hope that the Guacathon will move young people through this celebration and that they can feel the passion of this special family and the community they have built around them.”

Guacathon opens August 4, 2022. Denzel Curry’s the premiere takes place in 3:00 PM PST on FridayAugust 5 and will repeat the encore performance every hour until 23:00 PST on August 7.

About the change of ref

Change The Ref (CTR) was founded to empower future leaders. CTR gives today’s children the tools they need to be empowered to make change on critical issues affecting our nation, through education, conversation and activism. It uses urban art and nonviolent creative conflict to expose the catastrophic effects of the mass shooting pandemic. The ultimate goal of Change The Ref is to give the young generation of survivors and victims a disturbing voice to help lead the way for change – a more peaceful future.


Founded in 2017, MELON is a powerful metaverse development studio. They create original game properties and build some of the most innovative experiences in sports, music, film/TV, fashion and brands on the Roblox platform and beyond. MELON’s partnerships with major music labels and consumer product IP have garnered and engaged hundreds of millions of visits worldwide.



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