Hero Behind The Mask: Adam AKA Splat

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

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

Location: Bountiful, UT

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

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

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

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Toys for Tots 2013

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

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

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Idaho Statesman article featuring Adam

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Toys for Tots 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Idaho’s Comic Con 2014

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

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

The Hero Behind the Mask: ERT Ghostbusters

We all remember Ghostbusters growing up.  Either the cartoon, toys, or movies!  But did you know there are amazing people who dress up as Ghostbusters to support local charities?  Today I want to introduce you to the ERT (experimental research team) Ghostbusters.  I have the pleasure of meeting and doing several charity events with them throughout the years.  This group has some amazing philosophies discussed in todays interview with creator Robert “Buma” Aswin!  Plus they just know how to have fun.    So, who are you going to call? GHOSTBUSTERS!

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Group Name: ERT Ghostbusters

Mission Statement:
When I started this fan club/group in 2009, I was exploring a niche in modernizing Ghostbuster equipment for the time ahead and the future. In my travels meeting with other clubs, new people, and those that joined my club, I discovered fandom reaches all ages and levels of the human experience. This in turn made me realize that fandom is family. No matter how much we like, hate, or fight with others in our fandom, we all join together when outsiders rail against us and that is what family is all about. Only family should be allowed to fight with each other.

But my greatest joy is when I see people connect in this fandom and broaden their experiences with each other. That would include: friendship, romance, and other relationships.
I hope by seeing it will inspire others to continue to pursuing their fandoms no matter what genre it is. Those that are in this fandom, become better allies instead of the dark forces that work against you.

Robert “Buma” Aswin
Corporate Director of Operations
Founder of ERT-Ghostbusters

ERT Ghostbusters (Corp) located at Salt Lake City, UT
ERT Ghostbusters – OOPS Branch located at Ogden, UT
ERT Ghostbusters – SETI Branch located at Denver, CO
ERT Ghostbusters – CTA Branch located at Colorado Springs, CO

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When was the group started?
Est. in 2009 the Experimental Research Team (ERT) for Ghostbusters was born, bringing new projects & Proton Packs to life and helping out at Community events too.
And by who? Robert “Buma” Aswin

What inspired you to create Ghostbusters or CAUSEplay in general?
First of all, Ghostbusters is very iconic, after 30 years the No Ghost logo is third in the world to being in recognition to Pepsi and Coke. I also had a love of Ghostbusters since I was I n my teens, I remember building my first cosplay as a Ghostbuster with a Nike track suit, a backpack with a tube and a flashlight connected to it, plus a ghost trap made out of a show box. I also loved the car, everyone loves the car.

I had tried to start a Ghostbusters group in West Texas around 2006, but due to the lack of responses and being forced to move back to Utah because of hardships, I decided to start another group and the idea for the Experimental Research Team Ghostbusters was born. After so many years, I wanted to envision what “modern” Ghostbuster gear would look like.

With that philosophy, the gear we have has the essence of the original gear from the movies, but with our twist on it.

If you are a member of the Ghostbusters what made you want to join this particular group or CAUSEplay?
Brief history/overview: Since 2009, we have promoted the Utah CoOp, Utah Fallen Officers fund, Make a Wish foundation, Hope Kids and other charity groups. For every event, we pick a different charity to promote and generate funds for.

We have been at all three Salt Lake Comic Con events, Fantasy-Con and several local events.

I believe that the local charities need a voice when compared to National charities.

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Do you have a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization status or other designation? No.

And are you looking into getting a 501(c)3 status? Not at this time.

If not, do you consider yourself a charity group or just a group of friend who do good?
The funds we collect does go directly to the charity and we get a receipt.

How can someone join ERT Ghostbusters?
Anyone wishing to join can send an email to ERTGBSLC@gmail.com Once we receive the email, we will send out a membership application (It’s digital) and the group handbook. The person just needs to fill it out and email back to the group. If they are in an area that does not have an ERT Branch, we have guidelines on how to start their own branch in that area.

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What type of costumes do you accept?
The handbook outlines the various outfits that we accept, from the standard flightsuit and gear to business suit or a lab rat outfit.

Do you have a costume approval process, if so what is it?
The initial process is to provide an outfit that looks like it belongs in the Ghostbusters universe.

What do you look for in a costume?
The essence of the look that the outfit could exist in the Ghostbusters Universe and documentation on how it can function in that universe.

Do you have people willing to help with the costume making process or a resource guide to help with the process? (I.E. where to fund jumpsuits, patches, where can you buy a proton pack or find steps to make one, etc. )
As I have said to my group, do not try to re-invent the wheel, someone has already done it somewhere. I keep a personal list of links of where to find things for the group, plus a list of items needed to build their proton pack for the group. The group just needs to ask.

Do you guys create personas? Or just be yourselves? Background character stories or things like that?
We are just ourselves, but I do know that we are the only Ghostbusters group that goes by Callsigns. Like, I’m Buma, my wife is Kendle and so forth. That is what we put on our flightsuit.

Leadership structure: I do have a council of Directors that I answer to, that way the decisions for the group is not made by one person.

The positions that I have are as listed –
Corporate Director of Human Relations – Dan “Oni” Kauffman (Team Leader of CTA Branch)
Corporate Director of Research and Development – Joshua “Omi” Dees (Team Leader of SETI Branch)
Corporate Director of Franchise Operations – Stephanae “Maiden” Turner
Corporate Director of Finances – Andrew “Tully” Marsh

How is the leadership determined?
Most positions are appointed with an approval of the Council. The local branches have a Team Leader and a local Events coordinator. The Team Leader position fills out an application and submits it to the Council for approval. The events coordinator is appointed by the Local Team Leader. The Team Leader reports to the Corporate Director of Franchise Operations.

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What have you done for charities (types of events)?
Since 2009, we have promoted the Utah CoOp, Utah Fallen Officers fund, Make a Wish foundation, Hope Kids, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and other charity groups. For every event, we pick a different charity to promote and generate funds for.

We have been at all three Salt Lake Comic Con events, Fantasy-Con, Ogden Zombie Crawl for the past 5 years and several local events.

I believe that the local charities need a voice when compared to National charities.

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Do you create your own event or make appearance when requested?
Both, we have group events like a holiday party for members and also being contacted to represent our groups at conventions.

How did you build you “clientele”?
Word of mouth, in the beginning we contacted groups and asked if they wanted a group to promote their events, some said yes and some said no. Eventually we made ourselves known and go to events when we can. Our busiest time frame is from April-November.

My group has made a decision to not hold events at retirement homes, we felt saying “We’ll see you soon.” Would just be bad sounding.

Do you have particular organization or cause you work with regularity?
As I stated before, we choose different charities for every events, but we do enjoy helping with the Utah Fallen Officer’s fund, since our sister group the Umbrella Corp – Utah Hive supports that as their primary charity.

How much money has the ERT Ghostbusters raised for the organization it works with?
The amount varies with each charity.

What is the most amazing thing ERT Ghostbusters has accomplished so far?
Meeting Ernie Hudson (Winston Zeddemore from Ghostbusters) and making him and Honorary ERT member.

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Where do you see ERT Ghostbusters going in the future? Expansion and further promoting our personal motto that Fandom is Family.

Do you use any fun terminology specifically ERT Ghostbusters?
No, not really, but when we do create background documentation for anything, we try to create plausible explanations for things, which does include pseudo-science terminology.

Do you have advice for someone interested in creating a CAUSEplay group or getting into CAUSEplay?
First of all, have a love for what you are doing. No matter how bad things get within a club, always remember that it all started out with love for what you wanted to do and everyone in the group has that same love.

One memorable thing about the Ghostbuster movies is the car. Do you guys have one?
I have had three cars built since I started my group, but in the Ectomobile community, they have the nickname of Wrectomobiles. Everyone person that has ever built one has had some kind of damage done to them, the cars don’t last long.

Here are the three cars I have built –

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Anything else you want to add about your group or CAUSEplay:
The best thing about being a Ghostbuster, you don’t need to be a specific body type to be a Ghostbuster.

What future events do you have?
After October, everything comes to a slow crawl. We just have events for members and go to rebuilding things for the club and getting ready for the next season of events.

If someone wanted to reach you for more information who should they talk to and how can they reach you?
FacebookMain Fan Page  Salt Lake City, UT
OOPS Branch  Ogden, UT
CTA Branch Colorado Springs, CO
SETI Branch  Denver, CO
Website: http://www.ertgbhq.com/
Twitter: ERTGBHQ
Email: ERTGBSLC@gmail.com


Let me know how you are getting involved! I want to hear your stories!! And adventures!! Or tell me about a CAUSEplayer or a group you think are making a difference! Email AdventuresWithMala@gmail.com with your stories! If sending info on an individual person please let them know you have done so, to reduce the creep factor of a stranger contacting them for a potential interview.