Hero Behind the Mask: Mary Jo Chrabasz

This week’s interview is a little different.   Recently I interviewed Costumers With a Cause and tried featuring a few of their members in that interview.  This is how I met Mary Jo.  I loved her answers so much I wanted to feature her separately and share with you guys!  I hope you enjoy getting to know her as much as I did!  –Mala

 photo mary jo check her FB_zpsvvt4ncc6.jpgName: ​Mary Jo Chrabasz

Location(s): ​Norridge, IL (northwest side of Chicago)​

What made you want to join Costumers With A Cause?
​I started doing charity work with my Ghostbusters team when I joined back in April 2011, and quickly discovered how special that side of costuming could be. Then I started noticing lots of my friends mentioning Costumers With A Cause and decided to get involved, because I wanted to be involved in more charity work through costuming. Walking around a convention and getting recognized is fun, but watching kids enjoy seeing their superheroes come to life is so much better! ​

What have you done for charities (types of events)?
So far one of my favorite CWC events that I’ve participated in was my hometown American Cancer Society Relay For Life ​of Norridge/Harwood Heights. For 2014, we were given a superhero theme for the event (which was blamed on my team, Team GEEK, because we had brought a few cosplayers in to previous events). We invited Costumers With A Cause and they helped make it one of the best Relay events we’ve had yet! The impromptu line up of everyone along the track for the Luminaria ceremony, one of the most somber parts of the event, actually had me in tears because I was so moved.

Another wonderful rewarding event was the Autism baseball event in Humboldt Park. It was a relaxing morning, cheering on the kids as they got to play baseball without worrying about rules or teams. Seeing them enjoying themselves and just being kids was terrific. I am looking forward to the next event!

Other events I’ve helped with include the Kids With Capes event, and the Toys For Tots event. Both were really enjoyable and lots of fun. I’m looking forward to participating in both of those events again, as well as some other upcoming events, especially our “A Night At The Museum” for St. Jude’s.

What is the most amazing thing Costumers With A Cause has accomplished so far?
​I would say simply making magic happen for kids. At Kids With Capes, there was one stop where kids got to use foam noodles to beat up villains – including Ronin from Guardians of the Galaxy and Magneto from X-Men​. They didn’t see Terry and John, they saw Ronin and Magneto and it made things fun for them. While adults love our events too, it’s creating the magic for the kids that makes it so worthwhile and special.
 photo Flash Olaf and Marceline at Relay photo by Mary Jo Chrabasz_zpspywgl9x6.jpg
Where do you see Costumers With A Cause going in the future?
​I hope to see the group helping more and more causes and charities. We have a pretty decent slate of events for 2015, and I hope we can keep making that magic happen for lots of events! ​

Do you have advice for someone interested in creating a CAUSEplay  group or getting into CAUSEplay?
​Don’t forget to have fun! “Play” is part of “cosplay” and if it’s not fun for the cosplayers it’s not going to be fun for kids. Get creative, think outside the box for ways to raise money. My Relay team is always trying to think of new ways to raise money, and often we turn to cosplayers for help with that. It’s one thing to have a raffle, it’s even more interesting when it’s “The Raffle At The End Of The Universe”​ and is full of geeky items (like a full size hand-knit Doctor Who scarf).

Anything else you want to add about your group or CAUSEplay: ​Sometimes it can be exhausting to spend all day in costume, especially if the costume is uncomfortable or extra warm, but the end result can be so worth it. My fellow CWC members really inspire me and make me want to work harder, to make better costumes, to come up with new ideas to raise funds for charity, and to make it out to more charity events. We have a wonderful group, and we’ve done some really amazing things, and I wouldn’t trade working with these people for all the tea in China! ​

What keeps you CAUSEplaying?
​Seeing the reactions, from kids and adults, to our costumes. Making the magic happen is such a special adrenalin rush, and usually the day after an event is when I tend to start working hard on the next costume. ​

What was your first CAUSEplay event?
​My first events with Costumers With A Cause were Relay and the Autism baseball events (both the same weekend). The first time I raised money for charity in costume would probably be Wizard World 2011, shortly after joining my Ghostbusters team, when we raised several hundred dollars for the American Cancer Society at our booth. ​ photo Batman and Superman playing baseball photo by Mary Jo Chrabasz_zps5sq95hpt.jpg

What is your favorite costume to wear while CAUSEplaying? Why that character?
​My Ghostbuster uniform is my tried-and-true, easy to wear costume. It’s one of my most comfortable costumes and I’ve worn it year round – and that’s including the pack. I’ve done so many Ghostbusters events that I’m used to wearing the pack for hours at a time. But I’ve been trying to put together some more costumes, particularly ones that kids will recognize. Sadly, not as many kids recognize the Ghostbusters nowadays. ​

Most memorable CAUSEplay moment: ​Watching my fellow cosplayers walking the track for the Superhero lap at Relay this year, with several survivors happily joining them. My best friend (and team Captain)’s father was one of those survivors, happily being escorted around the track by several superheroes including Lady Deadpool and Black Widow.  photo 22_zps5w4dciyz.jpg

The silliest/strangest thing you have done for a cause?
​Probably helping kids throw frisbees through hula hoops mounted on sticks, at Kids With Capes. It was silly, but lots of fun! Even if I did stink at it myself. :)​

Who inspires you?
​My fellow cosplayers! ​

Tell us something random about yourself: ​Long before cosplay was a word anyone used, I was a cosplayer. Somewhere, I have props I made as a little kid – I made Dr. Venkman’s “sniffer” from Ghostbusters (from the scene where he checks out Dana’s apartment), as well as my own Tobin’s Spirit Guide. I also made a set of Dr.​ McCoy’s medical tools out of empty paint jars and 35mm film canisters. Costuming is in my blood!
 photo Superhero races at Relay photo by Carole Brown_zpspngei3di.jpg
Star Wars or Star Trek: ​Star Trek! Though I do love Star Wars as well. ​

Marvel or DC: ​Marvel girl 1000%!​

Favorite Comic Series: ​Gambit’s solo series from the late 1990s.​

Favorite Comic Character: ​Tie between Gambit and Nightcrawler, both of the X-Men.​

Favorite Book: ​A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle​

Favorite Video Game: ​Kirby’s Epic Yarn for Nintendo Wii​

Favorite Convention: ​Chicago TARDIS​

Affiliations (clubs or groups): ​I’m a member of Ghostbusters: Chicago Division, We Are Cosplay, and Costumers With A Cause. ​

Facebook: facebook.com/knitchick1979

Website: http://knitchick.info

Twitter: @KnitChick1979
 photo Gambit vs Magneto Kids With Capes_zpsnzya7kx0.jpg

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