Hero Behind the Mask: Joe Mignano

There are a lot of great people out there and I recently got to meet one of those great people through becoming a leader in Outer Rim Brigade. Joe describes himself as a man with many hats. And he is that! If he isn’t helping fellow Star Wars nerds in varying capacities he is working on a Star Wars podcast! Get to know this great man and show some support. Joe, thank you for your positive attitude and inspiration! –Mala
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Name: Joe Mignano

Location: Southern California

What got you into CAUSEplaying?
That’s a long story! Basically, after my wife passed away a little over a decade ago, I embraced a lot of the things I enjoyed most in life, as a sort of means of coping with the loss. I immersed myself in Star Wars, whereas before I was a fan but didn’t have many Star Wars things. I started collecting books, autographs, etc. Then, thanks to social media (which at the time was pretty much Myspace), I learned about conventions like Comic Con in San Diego, and groups of costumers that not only wore Star Wars attire, but also used their costumes for charitable purposes. I never knew at the time that there were such things, and I immediately wanted to be a part of it. It’s a part of my life to this day.

What keeps you CAUSEplaying?
Getting to be the Star Wars figure that I always wanted to be as a kid, and being able to use that live action figure for a good cause, especially when it involves doing something positive in the lives of children, really keeps me motivated to contribute all I can, as much as I can, as often as I can, even if I’m not often able to.

What was your first CAUSEplay event?
I really don’t remember! I think, technically, it was at Comic Con in San Diego, in either 2007 or 2008. I had a silly little campy YouTube show at the time called “The Dark Side Chats,” in which I’d often wear a custom Sith get-up, and of course talk about Star Wars. It was my first foray into podcasting, which over the years would also
become a favorite pastime of mine. Star Wars podcasting, of course.

What is your favorite costume to wear while CAUSEplaying, and Why?
I only have two outfits, believe it or not. I have a custom Sith and a Darth Sidious (prequel era, before Palpy got scarred for life by that traitor Mace Windu). Of those, I’d have to say I love my custom Sith, since it’s very non-restricting, breathes easily, and is rather comfortable. Plus, it’s something I concocted on my own, which gives the costume its own sort of uniqueness.

Most memorab photo Mark Edwards photography 189697341_zpstrydwoas.jpgle CAUSEplay moment(s): There are so many. But I’d have to say that one of my most favorites was while I was wearing my custom Sith, and I was working a table for The Dark Empire at an event, which is something I don’t really do anymore (I’m more involved with the 501st Legion these days). I had started something up called HoloNet Audio Dramas, one of a few Star Wars podcasts that I do, in which I narrate well-written short family-friendly Star Wars fanfiction, and set it to music and sound effects – the idea being not just to have a fan audio presentation (sort of like fanfilms, but audio only), but to also target that media toward fans that may be blind, have difficulty reading, etc.

On this particular occasion, a blind woman was led to the table I was at, and her hand was gently guided along that props that were on display. Without any hesitation or guesswork on her part, she knew what a lightsaber hilt was and what a Sith holocron was. I described the outfit I was wearing to her, and let her feel the material. I was amazed at the expression her face made as she took in the details of the display pieces and costume fabric with her fingertips.

I then offered her a free audio disc of HoloNet Audio Dramas material; it had about ten stories on it, and I used to give them away regularly. She later told me that she thoroughly enjoyed listening to the stories, and “seeing” what we had on display; she really experienced Star Wars in a way that she hadn’t before. That did it for me! I’ve never forgotten that, and I’ve given out close to 1,000 audio discs since, before retiring disc distribution last year. I still give free ones out on rare occasion, and I always think of that particular encounter with a blind Star Wars fan when I do.

What is your favorite cause to support and what have you done for them?
Hillsides children’s group home (an orphanage), is a cause that I’ve supported since 2011, having organized a Star Wars Day event for the kids there each year, now twice a year. I actually wrote a blog about it on the Star Wars website (link: http://www.starwars.com/news/celebrating-5-years-of-star-wars-at-hillsides-child-care-facility) , and it was mentioned in the Bantha Tracks section of the January 2015 issue of Star Wars Insider. Organizing an event like that for kids that depend on so much from volunteers means a lot to me, and I think it’s the reason why volunteers like us volunteer to do what we photo 1398881_10151840662688241_1116444032_o_zpsifute0zi.jpg do.

The silliest/strangest thing you have done for a cause?
The silliest thing I’ve ever done was probably be Santa Sith one Sithmas, a long time ago…

Who inspires you in life or cosplay?
I’m inspired by all of the people that volunteer their time and efforts into not only enjoying w
hat they do, but using it to give back, as well. The story of Albin Johnson, his late daughter Katie, and a baby girl once known as Princess Leah when she was alive were and still my biggest inspirations.

Advice for CAUSEplaying: Always be professional, but also have fun! If you aren’t having fun, then you’re doing something wrong.

What CAUSEplay events do you have coming up?
Hillsides every August is the single-most event that I look forward to, and also in December.

Do you prefer to be called a cosplayer or costumer?
Costumer. I think “cosplayer” is a term best describing a person that wears a costume for playful purposes, whereas a “costumer” doesn’t just wear a costume, they make it themselves and use it for a purpose beyond play.

What was your first costume/cosplay?
My custom Sith, or a very primitive version thereof.

What is your dream cosplay?
I’d like to do one or two more of the many fun outfits that are worn in the 501st Legion, and I’d really like to make some type of bounty hunter outfit at some point. The Royal Guard costume is really calling to me, but I’m also not sure if I want to demote myself from Emperor just yet. photo BrutalOne_zpsbvxlvdrm.jpg

How do you feel you have influenced the cosplay community?
Ironically enough, I think through podcasting. Although Dark Empire Radio is now its own entity, it once was the official podcast of The Dark Empire costume club, and I served as it’s main voice for a number of years, as well as the first PR Officer of that particular club. I’m now happily involved co-hosting and post-producing the 501stCast, the official podcast of the 501st Legion.

What is your day job (a.k.a. how I pay for my expensive hobby)?
I wear many hats. Security guard, park ranger, voice over guy. I guess it all depends on which hat I’m wearing at the time.

If you could have any job what would it be and why?
If “philanthropist” were an occupation, I’d love to list my everyday job as that. I dream of being able to freely give as much as possible, without the hindrance of having to work hard to be able to.

Tell us something random about yourself: I love cheesecake. Immensely. Some say too much; I say hardly enough.

Star Wars or Star Trek: I love both, but it’s the Wars that inspired me to do what I do. It’s all about the Wars!

Marvel or DC: I loved Super Friends as a kid, so DC when it comes to old school comics. But, Marvel all the way otherwise!

Favorite Comic Series: Dark Empire, the FIRST “expanded universe” or Legends comic from Dark Horse!

Favorite Comic Character: Darth Talon. I’m a Sith. A male Sith. It was only inevitable.

Least favorite comic character and why? The rabbit fellow in the old Marvel Star Wars comics. I can’t remember his name, and probably for good reason.

Favorite Book: Star Wars Galactic Phrase Book & Travel Guide, by Ben Burtt, with illustrations by Sergio Aragones. Think Mad Magazine and Star Wars together, and learn a bit of Huttese in the process. Major win!

 photo Joe Mignano 73 Front_zpss4ughjsa.pngFavorite Video Game: Battlefront II from 2004. Nothing comes close.

Favorite Convention: Celebration 6 in Orlando, Florida in 2012 was perhaps the most fun I’ve ever had at a con. I’ve also enjoyed going to ConNooga in Tennessee, and San Diego Comic Con in years past. Alas, I’m conventioned-out anymore!

Affiliations (clubs or groups): 501st Legion, Saber Guild, The Dark Empire, Outer Rim Brigade

Facebook: facebook.com/lordbruticus

Twitter: @mignanojoe

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Hero Behind the Mask: Erika Earl

I am please to share with you the first of the Heroes Behind the Mask series for 2016! Since I am also writing for Cosplayer Among Us Magazine this will only be a monthly release.

I am very excited to introduce you to Erika! She teamed up with the amazing and kind hearted owner of the Penalty Box in Salt Lake City to raise money for a cause near and dear to her own heart! They were very successful! Keep reading to find out just how successful her event was! Not only has she found time to raise money for a great cause but this cosplayer also works with Salt Lake Comic Con in additional to her other life obligations! She was kind enough to talk about all these busy things in her life!-Mala

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Name: Erika Earl

What got you into CAUSEplaying?
The people that I get to Causeplay with

What keeps you CAUSEplaying?
The events get better each time and it’s fun to see the progress.

What was your first CAUSEplay event?
It was a Make A Wish Dreamnight at the Hogle Zoo

What is your favorite costume to wear while CAUSEplaying, and Why? It depends, if it’s for children definitely my fairy.

Most memorable CAUSEplay moment(s) : All of the Causeplayers on the Carousel at the zoo together.

What is your favorite cause to support and what have you done for them? I personally fund raise for the National MS Society because I have MS and it is a cause that means a lot to me.

The silliest/strangest thing you have done for a cause?
I can’t really think of anything I consider silly. Everything is fun if you look at it the right way.

Who inspires you in life or cosplay?
All of the cosplayers I know inspire me in cosplay. In life I’m inspired by anyone who has the courage to be their true self.

Advice for CAUSEplaying: Don’t be afraid to beg.

What CAUSEplay events do you have coming up?
Nothing until next year that I know of but you never know what will happen.

You recently had a CAUSEplay event what is your event called? We change the name every year but it relates to MS and Cosplay

Why did you choose MS for this event?
I was diagnosed with MS over 12 years but because I don’t look sick it’s really hard to spread awareness. All of the money raised went to the national MS society 

Why did you choose to host this at the Penalty Box and how do you think this choice influenced your events success?
Bill Rowe is a good friend and Neff Michael’s fund raising enthusiasm is inspirational. There are no two people I would rather work with more for this event. (Note from Mala, Neff was previously interviewed for his own CAUSEPlay efforts so please check out that interview as well!)

 photo Capture_zpsx4wtqg60.jpg Please tell us the process to making this event happen.
This year was a little easier because it wasn’t the first time around. After getting in touch with Bill and Neff and getting the okay to have the event at the penalty box I rounded up raffle donations, I had help from friends and Geek Hangout Utah on that. Salt Lake Comic Con created the flyer that I both posted and passed out and from there it was pretty easy.

What would you say was unique about your event ?
We try to incorporate as much orange for MS as possible. This year we had orange mardi gras beads and orange glow sticks. Most of the pictures had some form of orange.

How much did you raise for MS in total?
We raised $1701.00 in two nights.

Do you see yourself doing something like this again?
I do, next year we will be back.

If someone is interested in creating an event like yours what advice do you have?
Don’t be afraid to ask for help and don’t be afraid to get told no and keep going.

You mentioned that you also volunteer for Salt Lake Comic Con, tell us what you do for them? What is it like?
I am the Director of volunteers for Salt Lake Comic Con, It is the most amazing job I have ever had. I thrive on chaos and love the event so much.

How important are volunteers for conventions from your perspective? The volunteers are incredibly important for the event. With such a large group of volunteers you would probably be surprised at haw hard each one of them works.

Salt Lake Comic Con seems to have a heavy focus on cosplay, how do you think that has shaped the Utah cosplay community?
It has made everyone feel welcome and as if they have a place in the event.

Do you prefer to be called a cosplayer or costumer? Cosplayer

What was your first costume/cosplay? A Zombie

What is your dream cosplay?
There are a lot of them but a Mandalorian is pretty high on the list

How do you feel you have influenced the cosplay community?
I hope I’ve convinced new people to join the community.

What is your day job (a.k.a. how I pay for my expensive hobby)?
I’m an executive secretary at a cancer hospital and I am the director of volunteers for Salt Lake Comic Con

If you could have any job what would it be and why?
I like the jobs I have [Symbol]

Tell us something random about yourself: I have more pets than any one person should probably have and I love them all.

Star Wars or Star Trek: Star Wars

Marvel or DC: DC

Favorite Comic Series: Batman

Favorite Comic Character: The Joker

Least favorite comic character and why? Superman, he just annoys me

Favorite Book: Coraline or the Graveyard Book

Favorite Video Game: Plants versus Zombies (any of them)

Favorite Convention: Salt Lake Comic Con

Facebook: Erika’s adventures in Cosplay

Hero Behind the Mask: Keyaroscuro

This week I wanted to introduce to another lovely lady I had the pleasure of doing a CAUSEplay panel with at Geek Girl Con 2014.  The talented Keyaroscuro!  Not only does she make phenomenal costumes but she takes amazing pictures too.  I had the pleasure of having her shot my Batgirl and I love all the pictures that came from this shot!  Keyaroscuro is one of the kindest people you will ever meet.  I hope you enjoy getting to know her in this weeks interview.  –Mala

 photo Mulan_zpsxidihxn2.jpgName: Keyaroscuro

Location: Ogden, UT

What got you into CAUSEplaying?
I saw these really cool-looking guys in armor at Anime Banzai 2010, a convention where I used to regularly participate as an Artist Alley merchant every year. Back then, I had more social anxiety than I do now, and it wasn’t until the evening of the second to last day when they had their helmets off and were talking about their plan for the next day. They were very kind when I interrupted them for a picture.
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After posting on Facebook, one of the armored cosplayers friended me, and over the next few months, I eventually learned that he was a member of the Mandalorian Mercs Costume Clubs. His Facebook posts were filled with photos of him and other costumes Star Wars characters volunteering at various charity events. Dressing up to do charity was something I’d never considered, and I loved it and wanted to be a part of it. However, it wasn’t until several years later, when a former coworker said he was trying to make his own set of Mandalorian Merc armor that I took it as a challenge to complete a set of armor in a month before the inaugural Salt Lake Comic Con. And the rest is history.

What keeps you CAUSEplaying?
One reason — the people. I love the cosplayers I work with; it takes a certain type of person to participate fully in this hobby, and the common traits they have are the type that make them amazing friends and adopted family. Then there are the people we serve. I have loved service and charity all my life, and there is no greater feeling than bringing joy to someone’s day.

What was your first CAUSEplay event?
My very first event was really participating during Salt Lake Comic Con with the Mandalorian Merc’s bounting hunting fundraiser. Outside of that, my actual first event was as a handler with the Mandalorian Mercs. A member of the community interested in joining our costume club, who is now an official member part of the local chapter, invited our local Krayt Clan chapter to a fundraising fair for families with children in the newborn intensive care unit (NICU). My armor wasn’t approved yet, as I’d had to fix and add some pieces to resubmit to the costume club’s application team again for approval. Mainly, I acted as photographer and repaired any loose pieces on armor when they came undone while the Mandalorians walked around to get pictures with attendees and invite passing drivers to stop.

The fair had this children’s train that rode around the entire strip mall parking lot that was hosting the fair, and we fit all the attending Mandalorians in their armor onto the train for a ride with permission from the train runners. We got a lot of great pictures from that, and I got to get to know some of the members, encouraging me to finish the repairs on my armor and become official.

What is your favorite costume to wear while CAUSEplaying, and why?
I don’t have many, but my Mandalorian Merc armor is definitely my favorite. For one, I get to cover my face with a helmet, so I don’t have to worry too much about makeup or how my hair looks until after I take my helmet off. I’m also very proud of my armor, and I’m even more proud of being visually associated with the other Mandalorian Mercs. It’s difficult to feel social anxiety when you’re wearing a really cool set of armor and are surrounded by a bunch of equally cool armored people.

Most memorable CAUSEplay moment: Ah, that’s another tough question. I think my most memorable was FantasyCon 2014’s Charity Night. The convention runners decided to open the convention for a few hours the night before opening day and invite Make-A-Wish Utah to invite local families with children with life-threatening conditions that often make it so they can’t enjoy conventions due to the crowds. I’d had a horrible day that day and a near emotional breakdown about an hour or two before while dealing with a completely unrelated issue. I remember going to the convention hall after I wrapped up my other drama and joining the rest of the Krayt Clan, and all my cosplayer friends helped me feel so much better while I got ready.

Then we all lined up in two lines to form an aisle next to the main door where they were going to let in all the families. There are maybe a hundred of us all in costumes ranging from Star Wars to Disney princesses to superheroes to elves. And the volunteers opened the door at the start time, and all these families came in. Each family had at least one child with a wheelchair or a walker or a feeding tube and oxygen masks. And they fall filed down this aisle the cosplayers formed towards the main stage, stopping occasionally to get pictures with us. The kids were so excited when they saw a character they recognized, and although some of the parents seemed hesitant, maybe just tired, they also seemed happy and excited for their kids.

I just remember looking at these cool kids and a couple of the mercs next to me (me included) saying that they were glad they had their helmets on to hide how much it affected them emotionally. That was a really great event and one of the reasons FantasyCon is my favorite convention.

What is your favorite cause to support?
The Krayt Clan has worked a lot with Make-A-Wish Utah, and they’ve always been so great. I love what they do. Also, one of my favorite annual events is a Toys for Tots drive held at Hastur Games that involves as many local cospalyers and cosplay clubs as we can get, and it gets bigger and more fun every year!

The silliest/strangest thing you have done for a cause?
I think the silliest thing I’ve seen wasn’t one I actually participated in, just took pictures of. It was my very first event and the only one I attended (not including Salt Lake Comic Con 2013) right before becoming an OM. There was this tiny train for children and a bunch of Mandalorian Mercs. You may be able to guess what happened in an effort to have fun with the kids and attract attention and attendance for the event, which I believe was for families with babies in newborn intensive care units.

On a side note, was also near Halloween and in the parking lot of a Halloween costume store, so after the event, we went into the store and all the mercs posed in silly costume pieces like feathered boas while I took pictures. It was quite cute.

Who inspires you?
Local cosplay inspiration Neff has served as an inspiration for me and many others in my local cosplay community. I literally would not be doing this if it weren’t for him, and I would not have stuck with it this long if not for his genuine kindness and caring personality.

Advice for CAUSEplaying: I’ve had social anxiety my entire life. It’s been very difficult to put myself out there at event after event and be a people person to strangers. However, I kept pushing my comfort zone a little bit each time, and now I’m usually very comfortable at events. So my advice is that if you have any insecurities that might make it so you feel you can’t participate even though you really want to, work on them a little bit at a time. Surround yourself with positive, strong people, and their strength will eventually rub off on you, and you can pay it forward in your own little way.

What CAUSEplay events do you have coming up?
I’m taking a break for 18 months to be a nurse specialist for my church in Uruguay Montevideo starting the beginning of May. I’ll be back at CAUSEplaying again in November 2016!

Do you prefer to be called a cosplayer or costumer?
I like cosplayer, because costumer makes me think more of theater costumes, which is actually one of my unfinished degrees.

What was your first costume/cosplay?
I actually went as Bellatrix Lestrange first; if I remember correctly, it was back before she had a character design in the Harry Potter movies.

What is your day job (a.k.a. how I pay for my expensive hobby)?
I’m usually a technical writer.

If you could have any job what would it be and why?
I’ve been asked this question before in a job interview back when I first started university, and my answer is the same now as it was then — a photographer for National Geographic.

Tell us something random about yourself: I cry a lot during many movies. Like the last Harry Potter movie.

Star Wars or Star Trek: I love Star Trek. I really do. Leonard Nimoy is one of my favorite actors alongside George Takei, and the whole franchise holds a very special place in my heart. But…I honestly get more emotional and more excited over Star Wars. So I’ll have to stay Star Wars it is!

Marvel or DC: I think both studios have their strengths and weaknesses. I do have to admit, though, that I enjoyed the Justice League and animated movies long before the MCU came to be, and next to X-Men, those superhero TV shows are my first superhero memory. However, the X-Men were the ones I got the geekiest over. So this is tough, but perhaps I’m going with Marvel for the moment.

Favorite Comic Series: The Sandman

Favorite Comic Character: Delirium from The Sandman

Least favorite comic character and why: I honestly can’t think of one off the top of my head.

Favorite Book: My favorite book changes fairly often, but currently, it’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman.

Favorite Video Game: Portal 2

Favorite Convention: FantasyCon

Affiliations (clubs or groups): Mandalorian Mercs Costume Club

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Keyaroscuro

Instagram: https://instagram.com/keyaroscuro/

Heroes Behind the Masks: Cosplay Heroes QLD

I absolute love the philosophy and attitude under lying this week’s interview! From everyone can cosplay/CAUSEplay to helping others and bringing smiles to others to inspiring people to be heroes themselves! That is one reason that got me into CAUSEplay, was the thought of inspiring others to reach out to their communities. It makes me happy to know there are others on the opposite side of the world with the same thought process! And they are for sure a busy group putting smiles on kids faces! I hope you enjoy this weeks feature of Heroes Behind the Masks! – Mala

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Group Name: Cosplay Heroes QLD

Location(s): Queensland, Australia

Mission Statement: **Not yet applicable** But if I was to make one on the spot.

We strive to help others, bringing smiles and assist where it is needed. To live up to the definition of being a hero in our community. Providing inspiration to all so “Anyone can be a hero”

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When was the group started? And by who?
The group started around June 2014, It was originally started by 4 Cosplayers.

If you are the creator of this group what inspired you to create Cosplay Heroes QLD in general? If you are a member of the Cosplay Heroes QLD what made you want to join this particular group or CAUSEplay?
There are other groups present at the time already. But not enough groups and or members, resulting in a lot of events or special visits being turned down. This was not acceptable for me/us, so we decided to start our own and grow our members large enough to cover all regions possible.
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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 are not ‘registered’ as a non-for profit. We are based on those guidelines and are recognized as non for profit due to the nature we are all volunteers and no payment is received. We would class ourselves as a Costuming organization with intent of non for profit charity work. As long as we have a NFP declaration, it is recognized as such. The declaration is what it says: Declares the groups interests on the work that is performed.

At this point we are not considering on registering the group in regards to tax deductible donations. As any monies raised goes directly to the charities deposit accounts.

How can someone join Cosplay Heroes QLD?
We will scout potential members or they can contact us via email or fb post. Though each member is subjected to a short interview, usually three questions. These questions are generally about: Teamwork, acceptance(of others/no discrimination) and passion to help others.
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Is there a website people can go to search for a local chapter?
We are under a year old, so we are operating solely on Facebook. Though a website is under construction.

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?
Costume approvals – as we do not discriminate on ones costumes or skills, we will accept any one or thing. There is a time and place for all costumes. Child friendly costumes and easily distinguishable characters are very helpful. But each Charity event has different needs, so it is foolish to only accept certain costumes. We want to satisfy all requests we get to the best of our abilities and resources.

Do you accept crossplay costumes? Gender bent costumes? Customized characers?
Genderbent and crossplay of course are accepted. We live in a diverse community and we encourage everyone not to be afraid to express themselves (Of course at discretion of event host). We will not hold any of our members back from “doing good” just because it is not of the right gender. Anyone can Causeplay.

Do you have people willing to help with the costume making process or a resource guide to help with the process?
Yes there are members who are armour builders, sculptors, artists, seamstresses and of course there is a much wider community outside of the group to assist.
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How many people are currently in your group?
54 members

Leadership structure:
President
Vice President
Board members(X4)
Public Relations officer
Librarian(Custodian or Administrator)
Event Organizer
Costumers

How is the leadership determined?
Elected yearly and based upon experience and knowledge. When elections come up, members are welcomed to nominate themselves and explain to the group why they are best suited for the position and a ballot is then held.
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What have you done for charities (types of events)?
This is a hard one for me to answer as I am not in attendance at all events. But to summarize we don’t do as much charity fund raising as other groups. We try to focus on children, we have visited many ill children. These children may have Cancer/s, disabilities, rare health conditions and life threatening or terminal ill children.

This is an emotional thing for some of us to speak about, but we leave knowing we have made a difference in a childs life, their families and their wider community.

Do you create your own event or make appearance when requested?
We do quite a lot of requests, to host our own event would be time consuming, not ours but of the public. There has been times we get a request at “the last minute” so we try to make ourselves available at all times. We have not turned down an event to date.
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How did you build you “clientele”?
Usually it has been word of mouth from our last client(Child visit) and our members reguarly keep an eye out in the community to find potential clients or events that could benefit from our presence.

Do you have particular organization(s) or cause(s) you work with regularity?
1-Capes 4 kids Australia. Website: http://www.capes4kidsaustralia.com.au Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/capes4kidsaustralia

2- Childrens Hospitals in Queensland

What is the most amazing thing Cosplay Heroes QLD has accomplished so far?
Spreading smiles and joy. Creating a team(members) that work together to make a childs day special. Everything we have done has made a huge impact in the community. But the most surprising thing about our team members, is the passion and commitment they show. For example we could be given under 36 hours notice for a visit for a sick child or an event. I guarantee you I could confirm attendees within 12 hours.
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Where do you see Cosplay Heroes QLD going in the future?
Expansion of members and a wider area of coverage in the state. With the budget cuts from the government in regards to health and charities, we will be required for a long time to come.

Do you have advice for someone interested in creating a CAUSEplay group or getting into CAUSEplay?

Have fun! Choose wisely your members, pick those who have passion for costuming and helping others. A slogan I use/created: If I have strength, why can’t I too be strong for others.

Anything else you want to add about your group or CAUSEplay:
Every member should be proud of what we have become and grown into. Started with 4 members and now it has increased to 54 in under a year. It is surprising how many people want to help, costuming is another outlet for them to help the community and have fun doing so.
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What future events do you have? Please note that many of the events listed below have passed but I wanted to share with you the amazing things this group does!!!  Also, some of the pictures in this interview are from some of the listed events.
The 20th Birthday of the Birth Centre 2nd May https://www.facebook.com/FriendsOfTheBirthCentreQld
EB Games Star light foundation week April 27th – 3rd May
Abigails Birthday(Cancer survivor and past client) note: we always follow up on clients after visits, its our way of showing we care( we are not just a one gig wonder)
Capes4Kidsaustralia 1st year Birthday
Sensory Movie Day 4th Anniversary
And that is just the next few months, more requests are expected 🙂

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cosplay.heroes.qld

Email: Cosplay.Heroes.qld@gmail.com
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Heroes Behind the Masks: Cosplay Collective

This weeks feature not only thinks about charity in the community but the costume community as well!  From podcasting to conventions and charity events to inspiring their community they do it all!!  There is so much to say about this weeks feature that I will let them tell it all!!   –Mala

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2014 Toy Drive with The Rouges Gallery

Group Name: Cosplay Collective

Interviewee: Dee Volpe

Location(s): Nashville, TN (Including all of Middle Tennessee and anyone else who wants to be a part of it). We have a presence on Facebook and welcome input from anywhere.

Mission Statement: We connect cosplayers and cosplay groups for support, inspiration, development, and to bring hope, strength, and joy to our communities.

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Batwoman

When was the group started? And by who ?
We began activities at the end of summer 2014. The founders are Dee Volpe (myself) and Nancy Arch. We have had great help and support from Johnny Dellarocca, Leeanna Player, and Tina Veda.

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Nancy as The Riddler

If you are the creator of this group what inspired you to create Cosplay Collective or CAUSEplay in general? If you are a member of the Cosplay Collective what made you want to join this particular group or CAUSEplay?
As a cosplayer in the Middle Tennessee area I noticed the diversity and many small groups and individuals, yet no real connection between them all. I wanted to unite them for support, advancement, and community causes. As a whole we can do so much more for ourselves and the community at large.

Brief history/overview: We were lucky enough to be acquainted with someone who asked us to work with IndyPopCon 2014 after developing, setting up, and then running the Cosplay Lounge and at the last minute the Cosplay Contest. We had such an incredible time bringing the cosplayers together and spending time with so many wonderful people we started to see a real reason for bringing them together in an effort to create community for them and bringing our love for cosplay to the general public. We offer to bring our Cospitality Suite to conventions where we can set up a place for cosplayers to relax, socialize and even repair costumes while getting off the con floor to avoid photographers for a time. When we realized that our ideas about our group were much different than our acquaintance we decided to split from them and Form Cosplay Collective. We immediately began events introducing our ideas to the community with a room party at Geek Media Expo and then a Toy Drive and Photo Shoot to collect toys to deliver to The Children’s Hospital at Tri-Star Centennial Hospital and the Monroe Carroll, Jr Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt. Since then we have visited several Hospitals and Assisted Living Complexes. We are lucky to have contacts where we are able to set up visits at places who have not had this type of events before and we have had great success from them, being asked for return engagements.

We also are a part of a larger group that brings programming to conventions. The Powerhouse Project includes, BDC Entertainment, Unlockable Characters, Comic City Conventions, and Cosplay Collective. As part of this group we provide our Cospitality Suite, run cosplay contests, and produce panels on cosplay. We intend to local charities and hospitals in the cities of the conventions we participate.

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Tina as Tomb Raider

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 are beginning the process of getting a 501(c)3 status for our charitable work. We consider ourselves a cosplay community that supports cosplayers while doing good works, if that makes sense. We believe you can’t do the charity work if you don’t support and advance the members that are doing it.

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Visit to Cennennial Childrens Hospital in Dec 2014

How can someone join Cosplay Collective?
Anyone, group or individual, is welcome to join Cosplay Collective. We do most of our contact through Facebook, conventions, and local events. We are an inclusive group and encourage all fandoms to join. No shaming or bulling is allowed in this group. We also encourage as much participation as possible.

Is there a website people can go to search for a local chapter?
Right now we have only this chapter, but hopefully that will change after we get our status. At this time our web address, cosplaycollective.org, directs everyone to our Facebook page.

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?
As a general rule, all cosplayers are welcome. It is not all about the superheroes. We want to not only do the charity work, but we also want to be supportive of the cosplay community and include everyone who cosplays and even those thinking of doing so. We are planning to have “maker meet-ups”, photo shoots, and events for cosplayers outside of cons. So, everyone is welcome. We also have a “no shaming” rule, as I said, everyone is welcome.

Charity events are a bit different, as we want the best representation of the characters, recognizable and well made. We don’t seem to have a problem with finding this. Everyone who volunteered so far has had great costumes. I believe there is a general understanding that we need good costumes for any visits we make. Some members have reached out to get help to make their costumes better just so they can participate in this side of the group.

Do you have people willing to help with the costume making process or a resource guide to help with the process?
We do and are gathering more information everyday of local artists that are willing to help others create. We try to connect with those who use our services at the Cospitality Suite we provide for cons. Those who create are welcome to let us know they are willing to help others. We are also happy to support cosplay businesses in this fashion.

How many people are currently in your group?
Our Facebook page currently has almost 450 members. There is smaller amounts that participate, but most all of us have day jobs and can’t make all the events.

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The founders Dee and Nancy

Leadership structure: Right now, the leadership structure involves all those mentioned earlier. As we set up our Non-profit that may change as we want others who participate to be more involved in the planning of events.

How is the leadership determined?
That will be determined as we get further into the process of getting our Non-Profit status.

What have you done for charities (types of events)?
We are a very young group, but we have been fortunate to have created several events.

We began with a Christmas Cosplay Photo Shoot and Toy Drive. We invited cosplay photographers and cosplayers to come for a meet and greet. We also invited the public to bring a new toy and they could get their pictures with the cosplayers. It was quite successful and we collected many toys to be delivered to children in the hospital at Christmas.

The toys were delivered to two hospitals by some of our cosplayers. Getting to meet and show support for some little ones who had to be away from home at such a special holiday.

We have been very humbled by being invited to a local hospital that has never had cosplayers make appearances. We visited the adults on the Oncology and the Pallative Care floors and, to me, this was amazing. We collected items that would be useful for them while they were hospitalized and delivered them during our visit. Families and staff were so grateful and we put smiles on faces that needed something to smile about. This is what I do this for. We have been asked to make regular visits from now on.

Events at some senior living facilities have been a joy to do also. After our first one we have been asked back and others have reached out to us to make appearances at additional places.

We are part of a live podcast called Comixstravaganza Live that can be found at graphicpolicy.com on Wednesdays at 7pm CST. We have had several local cosplayers on the show discussing why they cosplay, giving tips about costuming and more. We hope to expand on that in the future.

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Nashvilles Dark Knight at 2014 Toy Drive

There is also our Cospitality Suite that we provide to cons where we have a location at the con where cosplayers can get away from the crowds and regenerate and/or repair if needed. We provide many items that can be used to do this from sewing machines to hot glue guns.

Do you create your own event or make appearance when requested?
We create many of our events, but we also make appearances. Our idea is that not only will we do our thing, but if you are a cosplay group and want more participants we are happy to reach out to our group to find some for them also. Any event programmers are welcome to reach out to us for participation.

How did you build you “clientele”?
Mostly by putting ourselves out there and telling people about ourselves. We do this at cons and events. I love to talk about cosplay anywhere and it has surprised me how many people become interested when they hear about and see pictures. We are lucky to have a great network of contacts that have asked for our participation or have referred others to us.

Do you have particular organization(s) or cause(s) you work with regularity?
The Children’s Hospital at Centennial Hospital and Vanderbilt Medical Center has asked for regular visits along with several senior living facilities.

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Batwoman and Superboy

What is the most amazing thing Cosplay Collective has accomplished so far?
Everything we have done has been amazing! Seeing smiles regularly at our visits makes my heart sing! There would be no way to pick just one accomplishment; it is the whole that is amazing!

Where do you see Cosplay Collective going in the future?
We hope to continue locally providing a resource for local charities and event planners. We would like to help other areas of the country to create their own collective, bringing their communities together for great causes.

One thing we hope to do is to be able to make appearances at locations near the conventions we attend. In connection with the Cospitality Suite we provide, we feel that we have the ability to get groups together to make appearances locally during the conventions.

Do you use any fun terminology specifically for Cosplay Collective?
Of course “Cospitality” is something we use a lot.

Do you have advice for someone interested in creating a CAUSEplay group or getting into CAUSEplay?
Do it! It takes work and perseverance to get it off the ground, but if you put the work into it the rewards are amazing! Find the people that make the decisions and ask. If you ask, usually, they are happy to work with you.

Anything else you want to add about your group or CAUSEplay: The first time I put on a costume I paid close attention to the reactions I got! I saw what this can do for people. A smile is the best thing you can give someone because it gives them hope for something better. Why would you not want to do something like that?

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Visit to Vanderbilt 2/2015

What future events do you have?
Right now we will be creating a regular schedule for visits to the local hospitals and we have several senior living places on the schedule.

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

Website: www.cosplaycollective.org (Directs to Facebook at this point)

Twitter: @coscollective

Email: cosplaycollective@outlook.com

Podcast: Comixstravaganza Live @ graphicpolicy.com every Wednesday at 7pm CST

Hero Behind the Mask: Scott Loxley

I have had this interview for a while and it is finally the time to share this great story and adventure with you. One reason I picked today is May 4 is just around the corner and what better way to say “May the Fourth be with you” than an interview featuring a Stormtrooper!

Remember how I mentioned in one of my first blogs that the ways to CAUSEplay is only limited by your imagination? This weeks feature demonstrates this! Scott Loxley is walking around Australia (19,000 miles) in a full Star Wars Sandstrooper costume. Now for those of you who wear armor, Star Wars or any other genre, you know what it is like to wear it at a con. Now imagine walking the distance this guy has, and will by the end of his journey. Personally, I will never complain about being too hot or uncomfortable at a con again! You may be asking why is he doing this? Simple, for the children at Monash Children’s Hospital in Melbourne, Australia. But I will let him tell you more in his own words! If you are interested you can donate on his behalf here. Scott’s goal in $100,000 and he has reached $57,662.25 of it!  You can help him toward his goal too!   Make sure to follow him over the next few months as he completes this 18 month chapter of his life!  He has had some pretty amazing stories too!  Like surviving a snake bite because of his armor!

Scott, May the Fourth be with you on this journey and the next! –Mala
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Name: Scott Loxley

What got you into CAUSEplaying?
My daughter asked me to take her to a comic con event in Melbourne that started it all. I remember saying to her “what is that”? She laughed and proceeded to tell me all about it. It was another way for me to spend time with her so I agreed to go. It was there that I first heard of and saw the 501st Legion in action and was impressed by the work that these volunteers do for charity. It wasn’t until after we got home that my daughter told me she wanted to get involved in costuming and asked if I would do it with her, the rest is history.

What keeps you CAUSEplaying?
Every time I attend an event, be it as a Sandtrooper or Darth Vader with fellow 501st troopers, it gives me a great sense of wellbeing as we are all there for the right reasons and we are continuing to make a difference in our communities. I can’t see a time when I won’t be doing this.

Is this fundraiser your first CAUSEplay event? If not, what was?
As a 501st member, I have attended many fundraising events and look forward to many, many more. It’s quite easy to get addicted to helping those who in some cases can’t help themselves. That’s what the 501st do.

What is your favourite costume to wear while CAUSEplaying, and why?
I do enjoy wearing Vader but at the moment it would have to be the Sandtrooper (sand/desert version of a Stormtrooper). After wearing him non-stop for the last year on the road I have seen him appeal to pretty much everybody who stops me wanting their picture taken with him.
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Most memorable CAUSEplay moment: I have two moments,
1: attending my first 501st event as a Sandtrooper and experiencing firsthand the reactions of the kids, priceless.

2: when my wife, Sally Loxley, decided that she would also join the 501st and help me in raising funds for charity. Her costume is Emperor Palpatine, basically the boss of the bad guys.

Why did you chose Monash Children’s Hospital as a cause to support?
When I decided that I was going to walk around Australia, I was looking for a charity to get behind. I knew that one of our members worked at the Monash children’s Hospital so that made it a pretty easy decision in the end.

Your goal is to raise $100,000. How will these funds help Monash Children’s Hospital?
It will go towards buying new equipment that is always needed in hospitals. The hospital knows where it is needed and will make good use of the funds. I’m just happy that it gives them an opportunity to make a difference.

When did you start this journey?
I left Melbourne 2 November 2013 and should be finished by June 2015.
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What made you decide that walking 9000 miles was the best way for you to make a difference?
Sometimes in order to make a difference you have to be a little different and what better way to get people’s attention than to wear the iconic Stormtrooper costume. I use him at many charity events so why not take him on the road and try to reach as many people as possible.

At the time of this interview where in Australia are you?
(Monday 9 February 2015) I am currently passing through a little town in Northern Queensland called Mount Larcom. There’s not much here but I have found a picnic table and chairs amongst a few trees which will do me for the day.

Have you had support from the Star Wars costume clubs in Australia? If so what?
I could not tell you in a sentence the level of support I receive from the Star Wars community. I receive numerous messages every day from supporters both in Australia and overseas in almost every country around the world. It’s been amazing.

During your journey, what has been the nicest thing anyone has done for you?
I don’t think there has been one single thing. The people I continue to meet continually surprise me with their generosity. The longer the walk goes on, the more people are becoming aware of it and are offering support in varying ways whether it’s a room for the night, offering food or drink or are happy just to stop and have a chat.

Have you learned anything about yourself on this journey? What about the world?
I have learned patience. I have had no choice but to accept the things that I cannot change. I have also been given an insight to people around the world who donate via the Everyday Hero online donation page. People who live in other countries appreciate what someone else is doing in a country far away from them has been very humbling.
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You have set the bar high for yourself. Do you think you will do something this ambitious again?
Watch this space I guess. There’s always something to be done and a difference to be made somewhere.

When you get home what is the first thing you want to do?
Hug my wife and not let her out of my sight for the longest time.

Is there something in your daily life you miss?
Just a daily routine.

What do you hope people will take away from your example of selflessness?
The fact that any person who reads this is no different than me. We can all make a difference. You don’t have to walk around a country to do it. Just step out of your comfort zone and have a go.

What is the silliest/strangest thing you have done for a cause?
I’m doing it now, lol.
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Who inspires you?
The 501st Legion and my wife.

Advice for CAUSEplaying: Get into it. It’s been by far the best thing I have ever done. I can’t tell you how good it feels to make a difference. Ask a 501st Legion member, they’ll tell you.

Do you prefer to be called a cosplayer or costumer?
As long as people donate, It doesn’t matter. I remember walking across the Nullarbor plain and coming into a roadhouse and being told by the people that work there ” we heard there was a spaceman coming” as long as people donate I don’t care what they call me, and they donated.

What was your first costume/cosplay?
The current Sandtrooper costume I’m walking around Australia in now.

What is your day job (a.k.a. how I pay for my expensive hobby)?
I’m an ex-Australian Defence Force member.

If you could have any job what would it be and why?
If I could I would work for the 501st Legion so I could make a difference every day. At the moment I think that is my job, lol.
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Tell us something random about yourself: I have won State, National and World titles in cycling.

Star Wars or Star Trek: Isn’t Star Trek a courier company?

Marvel or DC: I lean more towards Marvel.

Favourite Comic Series: The Phantom.

Favourite Comic Character: The Phantom

Least favourite super hero and why: Aqua Man, apart from talking to fish, what does he do?

Favourite Book: I don’t have a single favourite, I enjoy history.

Favourite Video Game: I’ll play anything you put in front of me, but I like the first person games.

Favourite Convention: Armageddon is a favourite.

Affiliations (clubs or groups): I’m all about the 501st Legion. I’m a member to the Terror Australia’s Garrison’s Knightfall Squad. http://www.501st.com, www.monashchildrenshospital.org.

Please donate via ‘Everyday hero, Storming Australia’… https://newmonashchildrenshospital.everydayhero.com/au/stormingaroundaustralia

Follow my progress and video diary posts at: https://www.facebook.com/StormingAustralia
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Heroes Behind the Masks: Umbrella Corp Utah

Most of the people you have met so far dress up as super heroes to CAUSEplay.  This weeks Heroes Behind the Masks is just a little bit different! This group uses costumes from the Resident Evil video games and movies! If you like zombies the way I do than you know these movies!  This group shows us that even the bad guys have a little heart.  One of my favorite things about this group is their support of National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.  I hope you like getting to know this unique group a little bit more!  And remember, there are many cosplay options to CAUSEplay and this group helps proves it!  –Mala
 photo FB_IMG_1428139797086_zps2r16l76r.jpgName: Umbrella Corp Utah

Interviewee: Steve Strank

Location(s): Ogden, Utah

When was the group started? And by who?:
The group has been around roughly a year and a half. The original group was rounded up as a security detail for Strankenstein’s Zombie Prom for Juvenile Diabetes. I wanted all my security people dressed as a Zombie response team. Once we were all together it was discussed that we kind of resembled the Umbrella Corporation. After that we knew we had to continue the awesomeness!

If you are the creator of this group what inspired you to create Umbrella Corp Utah or CAUSEplay in general?
Me and my wife Trish have always had a passion for putting on charity events. Although we tend to do it in very abnormal ways like Zombie events. This just seemed like another fun way to do that.

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 have a 501(c)3, we work closely with the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund and one of our board members is on the board with the Utah Law Enforcement Memorial. A large portion of our group are law enforcement officers, so this charity means a lot to us.
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How can someone join Umbrella Corp Utah?
Info for joining our group can be found at www.utahumbrella.org we do have strict code of conduct rules.

If someone is in another state how can they find their local chapter of Umbrella Corp? There are many many groups around the world. We all post on the Facebook page Umbrella corporation worldwide.

What type of costumes do you accept?
Our group has 3 basic characters. Scientists (lab attire), Agents (black tactical look) and Soldiers (black SWAT look)
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Do you have a costume approval  process, if so what is it?
When potential applicats put a costume together they must submit a photo for our board members to vote on.

What do you look for in a costume?
When looking at a costume it must blend well with the rest of the group. Nothing too flashy or things that stand out. No skull masks or anything that shows expression.

Can I  join as a zombie?!
While we’re not currently recruiting zombies, if people want to be our “on call Zombie” for events, we do occasionally need Zombies for video/photo shoots and occasional events.

Do you often appear at local Zombie walks?
We appear at almost every Utah Zombie walks/events.

 photo FB_IMG_1428139893711_zpsjszeomxo.jpgDo you have people willing to help with the costume making process or  a resource guide to help with the process?
Having so many law enforcement officers and avid airsoft players, we have no shortage of places to recommend for you to get your gear.

How many people are currently in your group or chapter?
Roughly 35. Some are on reserve status do to being deployed or police Academy etc.

Leadership structure: We have a president, vice president, board of directors, and support staff.   And then we have 4 squads, each having a squad leader.

How is the leadership determined?
We started off with a core group placed in positions. When someone leaves the group for any reason, we vote a new person into that position
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What have you done for charities?
We have done escort duty for a make a wish child around comic con, we did the ever popular ice bucket challenge as a group. We raise funds for the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, we’ve helped with the toys for tots charity, we’ve done so many various ones I can’t remember them all.

Do you create your own event or make appearance when requested?
We usually attend whatever events we can. We don’t always fit into the themes however. (people prefer superheroes!)

How did you build you “clientele”?
We strive to be dependable, helpful, and courteous. We want people to know that just because we play bad guys, we’re always there to be helpful. We have started to gain a reputation for it which I am proud of.

Do you have particular organization or cause you work with regularity?
The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund

How much money has the Umbrella Corp Utah raised for the organizations it works with? Particularly at FanX 2015 for the National Law  Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund. What is the highest amount you  have raised other than this event? I think our total at FanX was around $1200 which set our record for an event.

What is the most amazing thing Umbrella Corp Utah has accomplished so far?
I think showing that bad guys also have a good side 🙂 people see big scary looking guys armored up with big guns, escorting a small fragile child on an adventure. And then seeing us all break down in tears at the end of it all.
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Where do you see Umbrella Corp Utah going in the future?
That’s a fantastic question. We’re currently deciding if we want to put a limit on members or not. We’re constantly trying to make things cooler for our booth. We want people to stop by and be blown away. In the umbrella corporation group community there’s always a competition on which group can pull off the coolest photos, booths, videos. So we’re always trying to get the upper hand.

Do you use any fun terminology specifically used by Umbrella Corp Utah?
We have a running joke about jackalopes.

Do you have advice for someone interested in creating a CAUSEplay  group or getting into CAUSEplay?
Start a group! At first it’s intimidating, but so worth it!
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What future events do you have?
We’re currently trying to plan out our comic con booth.

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

Website: www.utahumbrella.org

Email: umbrellacorput@gmail.com

Here is more information on Steve, the creator of this great group!

What keeps you CAUSEplaying?
A mix of seeing people response to our group, and also seeing our group come together as a family.

What was your first CAUSEplay event? 
When we started Strankenstein’s Zombie Prom many years ago. Back then I dressed as a Zombie.

What is your favorite costume to wear while CAUSEplaying?
I play the heavy machine gunner. I tote around the hand held minigun.

Most memorable CAUSEplay moment:
Escorting the make a wish child around comic con on his Dr. Who adventure.

Who inspires you?
The local cosplayers that continue to do their thing with gaining an ego. The ones who don’t need to be in the spotlight but do it just because they love it. The ones who stay up late trying to get that last piece of their costume just perfect. And the ones who always offer a helping hand and advice. There are a few local Jedi that will always have my support! You guys know who you are.

Tell us something random about yourself: There are only two phobias I have. Glitter (this is a well known fact) and Sharks!

Star Wars or Star Trek: Star wars!

Marvel or DC: Marvel! (they can do no wrong!)

Favorite Comic Series: The Walking dead

Favorite Comic Character: hhhmmm…. That’s tough. Always liked batman.

Favorite Book: American Sniper

Favorite Video Game: Battlefield 4

Favorite Convention: Comic Con