Heroes Behind the Masks: East Coast Avengers

Previously I introduced you to Captain! This week I want to introduce you to the group he CAUSEplays with! I learned so much in this interview about other groups and how much the CAUSEplay community is connected!  And our interviewee has some great advice and quotes.  I hope you find yourself as inspired as much as I have been!  –Mala

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Group Name: East Coast Avengers

Interviewee: Deadpool Aza Eca https://www.facebook.com/deadpoolavenger.azaeca

Mission Statement:  The East Coast Avengers promotes creating, owning, and wearing the costumes from the Marvel Universe featured in films, comics, and television. To capture the magic of these characters, the goal is to portray an accurate presentation of the character through your individual costume. However, we recognize that this hobby centers around fun and creativity. Therefore, the East Coast Avengers make allowances for the creative modification of these costumes within the confines of decency (defined as being without profane or vulgar features or statements and must be viewable by young children).

Our organization was founded to basically provide a collective identity for costuming fans on the east coast with similar interests, the EAST COAST AVENGERS is proud to put its resources to good use through fund raising, charity work, and volunteerism.

Location(s): We have members all along the East Coast, with the majority located in the major cities, such as Washington DC area, Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York, Boston, and many others.

Since we only require there to be three members attending any Event to make it an Official ECA appearance, even smaller groups in less populated areas can get in on the fun, and help where they can.

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When was the group started? And by who?
The East Coast Avengers (ECA) are a chapter of the Avengers Initiative Costuming Group (AI). It was founded by me, Liam Stillman (Deadpool, AzA/ECA), in 2009 whilst I was the CO of the Arizona Avengers (AzA), and activated when he moved to Virginia in 2010.

I am one of the Founding Four of the Arizona Avengers, (the original Avengers group that started it All),along with Aaron Forrester, Dan Burgos, and Ben Dickinson.

If you are the creator of this group what inspired you to create East Coast Avengers CAUSEplay in general? If you are a member of the East Coast Avengers what made you want to join this particular group or CAUSEplay?
I have been a ‘Costumer/Cosplayer for over 40 years now, and have been involved in appearances supporting charity causes and children’s events for over 30 of that. I found early on that appearing in costume can help draw attention to a cause, and that one can be an inspiration and example others, especially children. I have experienced so many times where a cosplayer and a child connect, profoundly, on a Hero level, and both are changed for the better, forever.

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Do you have a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization status or other designation? If not, do you consider yourself a charity group or just a group of friend who do good? And are you looking into getting a 501(c)3 status?
No, and we never will. We do not collect or handle money, in fact we avoid it at all costs. We never charge to appear, and never will. It is against our Charter.

We support events and causes by simply appearing at their Events and giving our time to promote them. Since we do not own the rights to any of the characters that we portray, we cannot make money from them, and cannot even be considered for a 501 status anyway.

How can someone join East Coast Avengers?
Marvel/Disney has their own in house costumes that make appearances, and they do not license or endorse any costume groups. They have been aware of us since the beginning, and we have a quiet approval of what we do. They know who we are, that we are not making any money doing this, like what we do, and sit back and watch the good that we do.
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Is there a website people can go to search for a local chapter?  We have several Chapters. The Arizona Avengers (AzA), the West Coast Avengers (WCA), the Mid Atlantic Avengers (MAA), and the East Coast Avengers (ECA). Each Chapter is part of the Avengers Initiative (AI), which oversees the Chapters. We all have Facebook pages, and can be found there.

To join the East Coast Avengers, we have an Application found in our Facebook Page in the Notes section. Fill that out and email it to ECAvengers@gmail.com
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What type of costumes do you accept? Do you have a costume approval process, if so what is it? What do you look for in a costume?
We are a Marvel Comics themed group, and do have an approval process. We want to embrace creativity in costuming, but the characters must be Marvel, and be presentable to children.

It is actually more important to us what the Person inside the costume is like, and look for enthusiasm, compassion, and dedication from them.

Do you accept crossplay costumes? Gender bent costumes? Customized characters?
Yes, to all of those, within the parameters of our costuming standards.

Do you have people willing to help with the costume making process or a resource guide to help with the process?
Many of our members are quite skilled in costuming, and do give advice, instruction, and mentorship where they can.

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How many people are currently in your group?
At cast count, the ECA had around 200 members, spread from Massachusetts to Florida.

Leadership structure:
Currently:
Commanding Officer ( CO ) Liam (Deadpool-avenger Aza-Eca)
Executive Officer ( XO ) RP Captain America, ECA (Cap America)
Membership Officer ( MO ) Nocturne Eca. (Nocturne Wolfsbane Eca)
Captain of the Guard ( COG ) JS Wolverine, ECA (Logan X-ECA)

How is the leadership determined?
There is an Election for Commanding Officer (CO) every year, and the elected CO chooses his subordinates.

What have you done for charities (types of events)?
We generally appear at things like Cancer Walks, Hospital Visits, children’s charity events, military events, and the like. We have appeared at so many that it would be a Book to try to recount them here, but each one is special to us. The Main thing is that we connect, on a Hero level, with the kids, and show them that there is much more in the world than the bullies, the gangs, and the negativity that they endure each day. That they have a choice, and can choose to be a hero too. The world slams them with horrors, and we try to bring some light to that darkness, and show them that there is more out there.

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Do you create your own event or make appearance when requested?
We only support events, as we do not have the resources to host our own.

How did you build you “clientele”?
When we appear, and are seen doing what we do, others make note, and seek us out for other events. It Snowballs.

Do you have particular organization(s) or cause(s) you work with regularity?
We are open to all charitable organization that we would be appropriate assisting.

What is the most amazing thing East Coast Avengers has accomplished so far?
Each and Every child that has been ‘Reached’ is our most important accomplishment. The small thing that we do, appear as a superhero, makes such an enduring, permanent impact upon them, that it literally changes how they see their world. Some of our biggest accomplishments may seem quite small to some people, but they are huge to us. For just one example, We have been the catalyst for autistic children opening up and beginning to communicate with their families and the public at large. Even just distracting a child enduring endless hospitalization for one hour is a fantastic accomplishment. Standing against bullying, and then showing the bullies that they can become heroes themselves, and that it is far more rewarding to be a hero than a bully, is a huge accomplishment. There are so many accomplishments.
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Where do you see East Coast Avengers going in the future?
The ECA will eventually grow in geographic areas to the point where there are so many members there that they will become their own Chapters, and have their own identity. Eventually, possible we shall have the New York Avengers, The Boston Avengers, The Atlanta Avengers, The Orlando Avengers. The possibilities are endless, if the members wish them.

Becoming a group that is sought after and invited to attend events is our main joy.

Do you use any fun terminology specifically for East Coast Avengers?
We do use abbreviations, such as ECA, and CO, etc., and do like to play in character with each other, always in a good mood and never hurtfully. Our villains, and yes we do have villains, all ‘Growl with a Smile’. Villains being good is a great way to combat bullies.
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Do you have advice for someone interested in creating a CAUSEplay group or getting into CAUSEplay?
First, look around. There are so many groups already out there that you may wish to join. You do not need to reinvent the wheel. I do not recommend trying to start your own group until after you have run a successful group already. There are social and professional pitfalls to be avoided. When you have a group of passionate and creative people, there can be drama.
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Anything else you want to add about your group or CAUSEplay: Check out our pages, and see what we are up to !!

What future events do you have?
We always have something coming up, so stay tuned !!!

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/EastCoastAvengers
Email: ECAvengers@gmail.com

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