Heroes Behind the Masks: Costumers With A Cause

OMG! Costumers With A Cause has some amazing costumes!  Between that and the fun they have at their events I struggles with selecting photos for this interview!!  These guys sure know how to have fun!  I know you will pic that up as you read through this great interview! In addition to that a few of the members were kind enough to answer a few questions so you can get to know them a little!  I hope you enjoy their interviews linked at the bottom!  –Mala
 photo group_zpszmcqkeyc.jpgGroup Name: Costumers With A Cause

Location(s): We started in the Orlando Florida area, I brought the group to the Chicago area 7 years ago. I have had costumers contacting me wanting to start up branches in New York, Ohio, Utah, South Carolina, and Los Angeles California

Mission Statement: Our mission is to work together with children’s charity organizations and charity events that promote community growth, unity, and hope for every child’s future. Together we believe that a world of difference can be made with a smile, photo or a single hello. It is our goal to utilize our talents to the best of our abilities in order to make a child’s day brighter.
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When was the group started? And by who?
I started the branch in the Midwest 7 years ago. Megan Barker started the organization originally in Florida

If you are the creator of this group what inspired you to create Costumers With A Cause or CAUSEplay in general?
I have always supported and participated in charity events. I attended a Breast Cancer event that the 501st Midwest Garrison was at. I thought “hey, I am a costumer, I can do that too” My very next event I came dressed as Wolverine. I was friends with Megan in Florida where The CWC was created, and I asked her if I could use the group name in Chicago for Charity events and she happily agreed. I attended charity events in costume for the first 2 years by myself, but as my costuming family grew, I met several good hearted, like minded individuals. Now, we average 20 people in costume at every event we are able to attend,
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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?
We do not currently have a 501(c)3, but we are actively looking into acquiring one. I do consider us a charity, as every single member is a volunteer and donates time, money and travel expenses to help raise money for any charity event we attend.

How can someone join Costumers With A Cause?
Contact us through the E-mail on our webpage, or contact us through Facebook.
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What type of costumes do you accept?
We accept any costumer who has a giving heart, and someone who works well and is non judgemental of others.

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 make their own costumes, myself included. Everyone in our group is helpful and friendly, and willing to help anyone getting into costuming with advice and many will even give their time to help others with making costumes.

How many people are currently in your group?
Our private facebook page has over 600 members, but perhaps only about 200 of them are active costumers in our Midwest area organization.
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How is the leadership determined?
Although, right now, I am the Midwest Regional President. I organize most of our events, but I rely heavily on other members of the group who are very active in the charity work. I could never continue to do this all by myself. Truly, we are a giant team and we are all responsible for making our midwest group successful

What have you done for charities (types of events)?
I believe we have participated in almost every type of charity Fundraiser, We have done Hospital visit, and parades.

Do you create your own event or make appearance when requested?
We have always attended events that were close to our members hearts, other events have been by request. However, this year we are hosting our first ever event. We are hosting a 1.5 mile walk fundraiser for St Jude childrens hospital. The event is April 3rd at the Volo Auto Museum in Mchenry Illinois
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How did you build you “clientele”?
Social Media and we have gotten several requests to appear after attending Parades in several towns.

Do you have particular organization or cause you work with regularity?
Not really, we have worked with all of the Childrens Hospitals in the Chicago Area, we have attended events for MS, MD, Breast Cancer, Children’s Leukemia, ALS, Autism, and many more.
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How much money has the Costumers With A Cause raised for the organization it works with?
I honestly have never kept track. Anytime we do an event we set up a donation page with that specific charity. Since we are not a 501(c)3 we do not accept donations ourselves, so we always ask that donations be made directly to the charity we are volunteering for at the time.

What is the most amazing thing Costumers With A Cause has accomplished so far?
The Happiness I see when we are at events is beyond anything I could describe. Both in Adults and Children.
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Where do you see Costumers With A Cause going in the future?
I am hoping we can continue to grow nationwide. Definitely hope to become a 501(c)3, and continue to move forward with hosting our own events, as well as continue to attend the events we already do.

Do you have advice for someone interested in creating a CAUSEplay group or getting into CAUSEplay?
It is tough, it is a lot of work, but if your heart is in the right place, you can do it and you will be surprised to find all of the people in your areas wanting to join you.

What future events do you have?
May 3rd : MS Walk in Naperville Illinois. For more info click here.
May 9th : Tough Mudder Chicago.
May 16th : Muscular Dystrophy Walk at Catigny Park. For more info click here.
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Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CostumersWithACause

Website: http://www.costumerswithacause.org/

Twitter: @MidwestCWC

Email: costumerswithacause@gmail.com

Getting to know members of Costumers With A Cause: Scott Whipple

Getting to know members of Costumers With A Cause: Matthew Rzepka

​​Getting to know members of Costumers With A Cause: Anthony Vernon AKA Pally Kashra
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Hero Behind the Mask: Missa Zane

I have known Missa Zane for less than a year and in that short time she has shown the passion and love needed for CAUSEplay!   A great example of why many people fall in love with CAUSEplay.  This fall I had the amazing opportunity to be on a panel with her at Seattle’s GeekGirlCon 2014 discussing CAUSEplay.  Her insight and passion added to the panel and discussion.  She has some great costumes in progress so check out her Facebook!  I adore this lady and look forward to her adventures! – Mala

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Name: Missa Zane

Location: Salt Lake City, UT

What got you into CAUSEplaying?
I met Batman (James C. Carlson) at a DC Comics themed photoshoot at Anime Banzai a couple of years back. He told me about H.E.R.O.I.C. Inc. and their mission to use cosplay to support charitable events and causes. He eventually offered to nominate me. I was honored but also thrilled to be able to use my cosplays for a good cause.

What keeps you CAUSEplaying?
The kids I meet at events are my biggest motivation to continue CAUSEplaying. Seeing their faces light up just makes my day ^_^. I see the direct impact my actions/presence has on the kids. An added bonus is that I know my presence at charitable events or my help with spreading the word about charities has an indirect benefit for the recipients of the charities. Sometimes the novelty of having cosplayers at an event will draw bigger crowds and news coverage that can help to raise funds (or other donations) for the cause we are championing.

What was your first CAUSEplay event?
My first CAUSEplay event was at Free Comic Book Day. Though, at first glance, this may not seem like a CAUSEplay event, it allows everyone an opportunity to get access to comics for free. Some of the kids that come have never read a comic and this could be their first introduction to reading for FUN. Comic books can be a great tool for helping slow or reluctant readers find a passion for reading.

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What is your favorite costume to wear while CAUSEplaying, and Why?
My favorite cosplay to wear is my Catwoman. This is my absolute favorite because I was an avid reader of Catwoman back when Jim Balent was the artist. I was always drawn to them and loved the art and story. Catwoman is strong, smart, and independent, despite (or perhaps as a result of) her childhood. Though she may seem like a villain at first glance, upon closer inspection one can see that she lives by her own code of justice. Her definition of good/evil acknowledges the reality that we live in a world filled with gray.

Most memorable CAUSEplay moment:
Fantasy Con invited us to go to the Shriners hospital to visit the kids. We were invited to come up to visit a kid (a HUGE batman fan) that could not come down to see us. He was recovering from surgery and still slightly sedated, but we could see how happy he was that we were there.

What is your favorite cause to support?
My favorite cause to support is Toys for Tots. I was a recipient before, so this has a special place in my heart.

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The silliest/strangest thing you have done for a cause?
The ALS Ice Bucket challenge while in cosplay. 

Who inspires you?
So many! Everyone in H.E.R.O.I.C. Inc. has been a great inspiration to me, but if I had to call out one person I’d have to say Eric Allen Hall. He’s so supportive, friendly, flexible, and easy-going.  He’s always willing to go the extra miles for a charity or friend and he always seems to have at least two costumes in his trunk “just in case”.

Advice for CAUSEplaying:
First, remember why you are CAUSEplaying. This is NOT a competition sport. One could easily get caught up in the process (having the best cosplay, networking, etc.) and lose sight of the goal. My goal is to make the kids happy and to help the organizations raise donations to support the various causes.
My second bit of advice is not to get involved in drama (it happens anytime you get more than 1 person together for an extended period of time). The best way to deal with this is to, again, focus on the goal not the process. Does it matter if I don’t get along with or disagree with another CAUSEplayer? No, because I’m there for the CAUSE, any friends I make along the way are just an added bonus ^_^ I’ve found that most CAUSEplayers can get past their differences if they keep the goal in mind.

What CAUSEplay events do you have coming up?
The Utah Kids Club WinterPalooza on January 24th and the Muscular Dystrophy Association’s Walk on March 24th.

Do you prefer to be called a cosplayer or costumer?
I prefer cosplayer. To me, that means I don’t just wear the costume, but I try my best to know the character so I could “play” them.

What was your first costume/cosplay?
My first costume was Wonderwoman when I was 5, one of those dresses with the plastic masks
My first cosplay was Yin from the anime Darker than Black.

What is your day job (a.k.a. how I pay for my expensive hobby)?
I am a Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner.

If you could have any job what would it be and why?
I want to be a housecat. Seriously, I’ve put a lot of thought into this and would like to be reincarnated as such. I want to sleep, play, and snuggle all day (on my own terms, of course).

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Tell us something random about yourself: My idea of a good day is one in which I don’t need to set an alarm (see above).

Star Wars or Star Trek: Star Wars. My dad was a big scifi fan, so I was exposed to both but I always liked Star Wars better.

Marvel or DC: DC

Favorite Comic Series: Catwoman

Favorite Comic Character: Catwoman (broken record?..)

Favorite Book: I…I… there are so many T_T…. I guess I would have to say The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Favorite Video Game: It was Final Fantasy 7 (US), but this was recently replaced by The Last of Us.

Favorite Convention: A-Kon in Dallas, Texas

Affiliations (clubs or groups): H.E.R.O.I.C. Inc

Facebook: Facebook.com/missazane

Twitter: @MissaZane42

Instagram: MissaZane42

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Let me know how you are getting involved! I want to hear your stories!! And adventures!! Or tell me about a CAUSEplayer or a group you think are making a difference! Email AdventuresWithMala@gmail.com with your stories!

Hero Behind The Mask: Adam AKA Splat

This week I want to introduce to member of the 501st Legion who is in this hobby for the right reasons!  As he states, he joined for the costumes but stayed for the charity.  A situation that happens to many who begin their CAUSEplay adventure.  It has been a pleasure to CAUSEplay alongside him!  I know he will always represent this portion of the costume community well!  –Mala

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Name: My name is Adam Cannon, but most, if not all of my costuming friends call me Splat (long story).

Location: Bountiful, UT

What got you into CAUSEplaying?
That’s kind of a long story but I’ll see if I can’t shorten it a bit. My wife took the family on a family outing to the Clearfield Boo-nanza back in 2007. While there I saw the 501st Legion (Star Wars costuming group). I got really interested because I’d wanted a Stormtrooper costume for as long as I could remember but had never heard there was a possible way to actually own one. When I dug a little deeper I found that the biggest aspect of the use of their costumes was charity work. In short, I came for the costumes but I stayed for the charity.

What keeps you CAUSEplaying?
It’s a great way to do good while having fun at the same time. The rewards for this hobby come in the form of hugs and high fives from the young and young-at-heart. If the compensation were monetary I don’t think it would be nearly as special or mean nearly as much. This is volunteerism in the truest sense of the word.

What was your first CAUSEplay event?
My first involvement with costumes was just as helping out on the photography end for a fundraiser being done at a toy store but I was still involved and we raised a great deal of money and toys for Toys 4 Tots. My first event in a costume came from someone I’d never met before. They had an extra Stormtrooper costume and they let me wear it for a Provo First Night New Year’s Eve event. That portion of the event began and ended early as it was geared towards children.

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Toys for Tots 2013

What is your favorite costume to wear while CAUSEplaying, and Why?
I only have one costume at the moment so by default it’s my favorite 😉 . It gets lots of attention though, I think because it’s bright red and stands out a lot. It gives me the chance to interact with lots of people.

Most memorable CAUSEplay moment :
I’d have to say my most memorable moment came fairy recently. I went to Idaho to visit some friends and help out at the Tree City Comic Con in Boise, Idaho. It was a very special interaction with an autistic boy and his mother. She was beside herself because I don’t think she expected to find a character who knew anything about autism. My son is high-functioning autistic so I had a few ideas about how to interact with her son. Luckily they worked.

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Idaho Statesman article featuring Adam

What is your favorite cause to support?
For me that’s a difficult question. The experiences you have at each event vary, and they’re special for various reasons. I think any costumer will go to any worthy charity that requests them.

The silliest/strangest thing you have done for a cause?
I don’t think I’ve ever been requested to do anything strange for a specific cause. I did the ALS ice-bucket challenge in full costume (minus the helmet) because there was a group getting together to do it. If you’re with good people you’ll pretty much do anything to make it more fun. I will say though, that there was an MDA walk where a girl in a wheelchair wanted to watch me dance. She was so sweet and endearing I was only too happy to oblige. I’ll dance anyway if the music moves me. Just because I play a bad guy doesn’t mean we shouldn’t keep it light 😉 .

Who inspires you?
This might sound cliche’ but I’m gonna say my dad. He volunteered for everything he could if it was to help someone else. This is a great way to emulate him while having fun at the same time.

Advice for CAUSEplaying:
Learn to have fun! If you’re in it simply for the glory of showing off your costume then I think you’re in it for the wrong reasons. Don’t get me wrong, many costumes are hand-made and deserve to be appreciated but if you’re worried that someone might breathe on your costume then you need to re-think your hobby because most of these events involve children. If it’s not CAUSE”playing” it’s probably more like CAUSE”working”.

What CAUSEplay events do you have coming up?
The next local event will involve multiple costume groups coming together at Hastur’s Comics on November 22 to support Toys-4-Tots. I’ve been to that event several times and it seems to get bigger every year. I look forward to meeting new people and re-acquainting myself with others.

Do you prefer to be called a cosplayer or costumer?
I’d have to say costumer. I think the term “cosplay” has developed a stigma that we’re just nerds who dress up for no apparent reason other than to win contests and attend conventions. There was a show on tv called “Heroes of Cosplay” that didn’t really do anything to correct any of those misconceptions. I only made it through one episode, and I have no idea if it’s still on but I couldn’t watch it.

What was your first costume/cosplay?
The first time I did an event in my own costume was on May 15, 2010 for a family who was trying to raise money to adopt a little girl from the Ukraine. They held a block party and all the activities were put on by the neighborhood. People paid to participate in the activities and they raised a significant amount. I don’t know what the total ended up being or if the adoption ever took place but it felt good to know I contributed to the attempt.

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Toys for Tots 2012

What is your day job (a.k.a. how I pay for my expensive hobby)?
I help in the shipping / receiving department of a warehouse that sells scrapbooking stuff. Eventually I plan on going back to school so I’ll add “non-traditional student” to my resume’.

If you could have any job what would it be and why?
I wish I had the talent to be a comic book artist. Maybe I could create a costume that would make it into this hobby. 😀

Tell us something random about yourself:
I think I’m in the top 5 oldest people to be involved in costuming here in Utah.

Star Wars or Star Trek:
I gotta go with Star Wars. I have nothing against Star Trek, I just think it might come down to something as simple as which one you were exposed to first. I’m also not sure that one would have necessarily existed without the other but I have latent memories of watching the Death Star trench run in the theater with my dad when it first came out (Yes, I am that old 😉 )

Marvel or DC:
I grew up on Spider-Man comic books, so if you’re holding a gun to my head I’d say Marvel, but both universes offer up some awesome characters.

Favorite Comic Character:
Spider-Man. He’s a person with real-world problems. I know every superhero has issues, but this is a High School / College kid who’s trying to juggle school, work, personal life, home life, etc. with the demands of helping others as Spider-Man, with the additions of the villains trying to take him down too. If there were a superhero that was a family man with a wife and a few kids I’d probably make them a favorite as well.

Favorite Book:
Can’t do it. That’s like picking a favorite child (although one of my children is definitely running 2nd right now 😉 ). I will say my least favorite was Crime and Punishment by Dostoyevsky. I never finished it because by about half way through it was too much of a chore to read. I still have no idea how it ends.

Favorite Video Game:
It was Call of Duty for a while before my account was hacked and I couldn’t level up so I stopped playing video games altogether for a while. When I came back briefly I played Skyrim. If I could get a good group of friends to play a closed group online it wouldn’t matter what the game was.

Favorite Convention:
If I’d had to answer this a month ago I’d have said Salt Lake Comic Con or FanX, but I went to Boise for Tree City Comic Con and had a great time there. It was much, much, much, much lower key, and for me that was part of the appeal, and the Idaho 501st people treated my friend and me extremely well. To be fair, I’ve never been to anything else. I don’t get out as much so I really only have a small sampling of conventions to compare.

Affiliations (clubs or groups):
Alpine Garrison (The Utah Chapter of the 501st Legion – Star Wars Costuming Group), but I have friends in all the groups. 😀

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Splattum

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Idaho’s Comic Con 2014

Added 3/25/15.  Adam recently made a nice YouTube video of cosplayers making children happy.  You can check out this great video here.

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Let me know how you are getting involved! I want to hear your stories!! And adventures!! Or tell me about a CAUSEplayer or a group you think are making a difference! Email AdventuresWithMala@gmail.com with your stories!