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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Hero Behind the Mask: Nashville’s Dark Knight

This weeks Hero Behind the Mask has a great Batman costume!!! Some of the pictures he sent for this interview seemed to be out of a movie!  I completely geeked out when I saw them!  He was also a guest at Toymania in Murfreesboro, TN.  Something many cosplayers dream of but few actually get to do!  In addition to making appearance, this man also focuses on charity and his community.  Which is why I selected him to be part of this interview!  I hope you enjoy this week’s  interview with one of the biggest Batman fans I have met so far!  – Mala

 photo 4_zps2enrwrp5.jpgName: Adam Prince (Nashville’s Dark Knight)

Location: Murfreesboro, TN

What got you into CAUSEplaying?
The love of the fictional character Batman.

What keeps you CAUSEplaying?
I love to entertain. I love what the character stands for and the impact he gives others.

What was your first CAUSEplay event?
Shelbyville Autism benefit

What is your favorite costume to wear while CAUSEplaying, and Why?
Anything Batman.. The character means a lot to me. In my life whenever things got bad I looked up to Batman as a child. When I’m Batman I feel proud to represent a iconic character.
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Most memorable CAUSEplay moment: I have so many… I was at an autism event in a small town seeing kids and families. My mother told me to grow up and stop wearing a mask until the day she saw me show up to a event and walk up to a kid in the hot summer heat , get down on my knees and hug the little boy and then hold his hand and talk with him while walking. I looked up at her to see her cry with joy.
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What is your favorite cause to support?
Children’ s hospitals . Helping promote literacy in all age groups. I like to show support to as many causes as possible, whether it’s supporting adult groups or children there are all equally worthy.

The silliest/strangest thing you have done for a cause?
Dance at a 5k event

Who inspires you?
Batman… As a child growing up in school I was picked on for my weight. I got into fights all the time with bullies. Girls and guys of all ages. My parents loved me and tried to help me the best they could until they decided to home school me after it became too much. I got to the point where I was suicidal and depressed until one day I was looking at a comic and realized I’m stronger than what the world throws at me. I went into karate and joined a volunteer fire dept around my high school years. I lost 105lbs. I got involved in volunteer work in my area. For the last 13 years I have been Batman. If I can reach one or two and help them then I feel that I’m doing what Batman did for me… to never give up.
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Advice for CAUSEplaying: Treat the character with respect. You don’t know who is watching you. You might make a difference in someone’s life.

What CAUSEplay events do you have coming up?
May 1 I have Free Comic Book Day. June I’ll have Fanboy Expo in Knoxville, TN. Superman Celebration in Metropolis IL. Dickson County Public Library in June. August Shelbyville Autism Benefit. September Nashville Wizard World. Ghouls at Grassmere in October. November GMX… I have random charity events and hospital visits I do randomly through the year. Not sure on exact dates.

Do you prefer to be called a cosplayer or costumer?
It doesn’t matter to me.

What was your first costume/cosplay?
1989 rubber Batman suit

What is your day job (a.k.a. how I pay for my expensive hobby)?
I’m a farmer and a painter and a writer/mascot for a batman website (www.darkknightnews.com)

If you could have any job what would it be and why?
I would say Fireman but I did that for 5 years. I would say any job that I was able to break away when I want to vounteerl my time seeing kids as Batman and still have the wealth to not worry about paying the bills on time would be awesome!
 photo 3_zpseia7vyp1.jpgTell us something random about yourself: I love going hiking in the mountains with my wife.

Star Wars or Star Trek: Star Trek

Marvel or DC: DC all the way 🙂

Favorite Comic Series: Batman No Mans Land

Favorite Comic Character: Batman

Favorite Book: Batman The Ultimate Evil

Favorite Video Game: All the Batman Arkham games

Favorite Convention: Nashville Wizard World

Affiliations (clubs or groups): The Bestine Fanforce / The Rogues Gallery / Heroes Alliance / Dark Knight News

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

Instagraminstagram.com/nashvillesdarkknight/

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: Knightmage

I have followed Knightmage for sometime now and I am always blown a way by his skill level as a costumer, his attitude, his compassion, and his level of giving!  I will forever be amazed at how quickly he can produce some complicated costumes!  If you haven’t seen his Predator yet check out his Facebook page (one costume that is not shown in any pictures here)!  You won’t be disappointed!  There is so much that can be said about this man but I feel his own words do more justice for his character than I could even attempt!   –Mala

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Name: Michael “Knightmage” Wilson

Location: Youngstown, Ohio

What got you into CAUSEplaying?
It started in 2011 when I decided that I wanted to make my Halloween costume. I went with John Stewart Green Lantern. After Halloween a friend asked me if I could participate in a local Relay For Life event. The theme was “America” so I thought, ok, I’ll make Captain America. After that I started attending birthday parties as Spiderman and soon after I made my Batman costume. That’s when I really started getting more involved with charity events. As time went on and the popularity of my cosplaying grew I started thinking that I could use this as an avenue to help a lot of people and organizations. Once I started getting invited to conventions and people would ask if I sold prints of my cosplays, again I thought this would be a great chance. So I came up with the idea to give my prints and autographs out for free. All I ask is a donation of any amount to my charity of choice. Every convention I attend I do a different charity. I try to stay local to where the convention is. I’ve since started to add a “Props Raffle for Charity”. Everything I do involving cosplaying where I’m handed money, whether it be a con appearance, birthday party, selling of prints and props, it all goes to charity. That’s my way of giving back for all the amazing opportunities that I’ve been given through cosplaying.

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What keeps you CAUSEplaying?
A few things. Again, it’s really my way of giving back. Once cosplaying went from a hobby to a passion I really wanted to strive to be an idea. I didn’t just want to create something, wear it then be done. I wanted it to mean something. I wanted to do more and hopefully inspire others with it. There’s so many different layers of cosplaying to me now and there’s so many more yet undiscovered. Showing how you can turn a hobby/passion you love into a charitable act of love is just one layer. But it’s a huge layer for me and it continues to drive me to keep doing more. When I started cosplaying I never expected it to go in this direction. Now two years later I’m getting The Presidential Volunteer’s Service Award and paying off layaways as an anime character. It’s just crazy how life happens and the twists and turns it gives you.

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What was your first CAUSEplay event?
It was a Relay For Life. I made Captain America specifically for that event. I had an absolute blast and it was well received.

What is your favorite costume to wear while CAUSEplaying, and Why?
I’ve tested out only a hand full of different costumes at events but Batman is probably my favorite. All kids and even adults love Batman. The reception I get from it is something really special.

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Most memorable CAUSEplay moment:
Wow. There’s been so many. I think maybe the “Lighting the Bat Signal for Jayden” event. This was a local event for a young four-year old boy named Jayden. He has a rare disease known as MSD Leukemia. At the time he was only given months to live. He’s a huge Batman fan so the idea was to make an event so big that it would catch the attention of Christian Bale in hopes that he would come and meet the young man. Well as time drew closer the idea was thought to have a bunch of superheroes there as well. This is when I decided to make my Batman. I would be Batman for the event. A very small organization at the time from Cleveland “Superheroes to kids in Ohio” got involved and one of the members had just purchased a Batman suit. So the reigns of doing that honor was handed to him. I decided to wear my Green Lantern outfit. When the day came, with only weeks of planning, us heroes (around 12) had a police escort to the local stadium with over 10 thousand people waiting. It was unbelievable. Then comes little Jayden. We all greeted him. He over joyed. As it got dark Jayden lit the Bat signal in the sky. Literally a fully working large spotlight Bat signal. A very kind gentleman who owned one brought his from Cleveland and played the role of Alfred. With the signal in the sky and music playing through the stadium speakers, Batman rolls in with his Batmobile. I don’t remember the type of car but it was donated for use from a dealership. The car was a black sleek sports car and was worth around $500,000. Batman took Jayden for a quick ride and returned to the stadium where we all took photos and chatted. The outpouring of support shown from the community was just incredible. I think that will forever be my favorite moment. The story gets better as Christian Bale did indeed get word and flew Jayden and his family out to Los Angeles to spend the weekend with him. Also Jayden is still with us and is on the road to recovery.

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What is your favorite cause to support?
I have a lot but one charity I will always support and is my go to is the Make-A-Wish Foundation. They do so much and to be able to help give someone their last wish, that’s just the ultimate gift to give.

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The silliest/strangest thing you have done for a cause?
So far I haven’t had to do anything really crazy but I’m sure after this interview post that’ll change.

Who inspires you?
I find inspiration from everywhere and everybody. Sounds cliché but it’s absolutely true. There are so many people, especially in the cosplay community who inspires me. I feed off of positive energy. If it’s around then that’s what inspires me.

Advice for CAUSEplaying: So many things to say here. First off you need to be confident in yourself, be true to the character and mindful of your audience.. 90% of charity cosplaying involves working with kids. If you’re Superman then you need to be the portrayal of Superman. I don’t mean looking like you just came out of a comic book. I mean your personality. You want that kid to believe that you are Superman regardless of what you personally look like because all that kid will see is that “S” on your chest. Getting into charity work can be difficult but don’t get discouraged. Create a resume/bio of yourself to give organizations. Get a background check done of yourself too. They need to know that they can trust you and you want to be able to show that they can. Anytime money is involved, especially if you’re raising it, then you need to keep all receipts. Start small. You probably won’t be able to just contact a Children’s Hospital and start visits. You need to build a rapport with your community first. I always say that Relay for Life’s are great for that. They’re everywhere and there’s so many connections in the community that you can make. I can go on and on but I’m always available to help and give some tips and guidance.

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What CAUSEplay events do you have coming up?
Well, since I raise money at every convention I guest at I have a bunch of those coming up. Many I can’t say yet because they haven’t announced me. And of course there’s always a charity event in need of a super hero somewhere. I post my schedule as it comes regularly on my social media pages.

Do you prefer to be called a cosplayer or costumer?
It honestly doesn’t matter to me. Neither are derogatory terms and both generally means the same.

What was your first costume/cosplay?
John Stewart Green Lantern. Made that for Halloween in 2011.

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What is your day job (a.k.a. how I pay for my expensive hobby)?
I am a Deputy Sheriff. I’ve been in law enforcement for 15 years. People are always shocked to learn that.

If you could have any job what would it be and why?
I’ve always been fascinated with fight choreography and stunts so I would have to say a professional stuntman. I’ve went to stunt school and have done extra work and stunt work for a few Hollywood movies but I’ve never pursued it as a career.

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Tell us something random about yourself: I am deathly afraid of spiders!

Star Wars or Star Trek: Star Wars! C’mon, The Force is where it’s at!

Marvel or DC: That’s tough. Character wise I love DC but when it comes to building a story I love Marvel. So overall I think Marvel has the edge with me.

Favorite Comic Series: Batman. The one character who is always a constant to me is Batman.

Favorite Comic Character: Spawn. Such an incredible story and look. Plus he’s incredibly fun to cosplay.

Favorite Book: I’m not religious but The Bible.

Favorite Video Game: Oregon Trail! No, seriously, probably the Call of Duty series. It’s so much fun. So many hours and days wasted just doing some killin.

Favorite Convention: C2E2. I have so much fun at this convention every year. I’ve met so many awesome friends there. So many amazing cosplays also. It’s a great show with a mix of pop culture and comics. It’s just awesome all around. A very close second is Dragon Con. That con is just crazy nuts but in a good party way.

Affiliations (clubs or groups): Super Heroes to Kids in Ohio, The Heroes Alliance Ohio, Together Brothers Productions, Shot in the Dark Comics, and the East Coast Avengers.

Facebook: www.Facebook.com/Knightmage1

Twitter: @Knightmage

Instagram: Knightmage1

Hero Behind the Mask: Lonstermash

This weeks feature is about someone I have followed for a long time, Lonstermash!  He is mainly a cosplayer who occasionally uses his love of Wolverine and Rocky for CAUSEplay. I highly recommend his Facebook page!  He is always coming up with fun photo shots using his unique sense of humor.  As I always say, if you aren’t having fun in this hobby then why are you doing it?!  And this man knows how to have fun!  Not only that, he is very down to earth and a pleasure to speak with!  Always willing to take a timeout to get a picture with a fan!  I am pleased to present this weeks interview!  ENJOY! –Mala

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Name:  Lonstermash

Location:  L.A.

What got you into CAUSEplaying?  If we’re talking “cos” playing, the fun of getting to basically celebrate Halloween more than once a year   If we’re talking “cause” playing, my friend over at The Trinity All-Stars who first organized an outing for me and a few of our other cosplayer friends to visit a pediatric ward of a big hospital near L.A..

What keeps you CAUSEplaying?   The great reaction I get from fans at conventions and on my FB page and IG account, the fun I get to have with fellow cosplayer friends, the fun photo shoots I get to do, and the way it allows me to express my artistic and creative side.   If we’re talking “cause” playing, the good feeling I get by making someone’s day nice who, otherwise, isn’t in a good place in life right now, due to illness/poverty.

What was your first CAUSEplay event?   For Cosplay, it was Comikaze 2012; for “Cause” play, it was the above mentioned outing to Long Beach Memorial hospital’s pediatric ward.

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What is your favorite costume to wear while CAUSEplaying, and Why?  For “cos” playing, it’s Rocky Balboa, because he is my favorite fictional character of all-time and much of the reason I am who I am today, in terms of my work ethic.  And, he was the reason I got into fitness back in the mid 80’s (because I wanted to look like  his body).  For “cause” play, it’s only been Wolverine, so there is no choice there.  And it’s only been Wolverine, in part, because this is my most recognizable character to kids.

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Most memorable CAUSEplay moment :  When a little girl yelled out “I DON’T EVER WANT TO LEAVE THIS PLACE,” at my recent Toys For Tots event, where I and about 30 total cosplayers entertained less fortunate kids and their families just before Christmas.

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Toys for Tots event

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What is your favorite cause to support?  Anything having to do with kids who are in bad health

The silliest/strangest thing you have done for a cause?  Nothing silly/strange

Who inspires you?  No one specifically.  But I really like it when I encounter a celebrity who acts very humble and down to earth when they meet you.  And  I’m very inspired by anyone who is enlisted in our armed forces defending our American freedom, or anyone who donates their time and or money to help those less fortunate.

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Advice for CAUSEplaying:   Leave your ego at the door and try to be as real and down to earth as possible.

What CAUSEplay events do you have coming up?   None that I know about.

Do you prefer to be called a cosplayer or costumer?  I’ve never been called a costumer, but either would be fine.

What was your first costume/cosplay?  Wolverine

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What is your day job (a.k.a. how I pay for my expensive hobby)?  Physical Therapist

If you could have any job what would it be and why?  Actor/Rock star, because it’s fun and pays well and has a lot of time off.

Star Wars or Star Trek:  I like both, but WAYYYY more into Star Wars

Marvel or DC:  Marvel, but I LOVE Batman, too.

Favorite Comic Series:  X-Men

Favorite Comic Character:  Tie between Batman, Spider-Man, and Wolverine

Favorite Book:  The Bible

Favorite Video Game:  Mike Tyson’s Punch Out on the old Nintendo system

Favorite Convention:  Comikaze

Facebook:   www.facebook.com/Lonstermash

Twitter:  @reallonstermash     (I had to use “real” because some jerk created an account with @lonstermash, using my pictures, and pretending to be me and he won’t surrender it now)

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