With Halloween come and gone, many people have had their annual costuming fun and put those costumes away, or returned them to the rental shop, or even donated them to the local thrift store. But for some people, costuming is a year-round celebration of their favorite characters. Long associated with geeks and conventions, costuming has become a hobby unto itself. And for some, it's become a way of life.
Heroes are meant to inspire. Cosplayers are geeks who display who and what they love in the most theatrical ways possible. And sometimes, they do this to pay their inspiration forward. Sometimes, they do this not just to homage, but to inspire and bring their heroes to life. Defeating negative stereotypes and helping the community... that's what being a super hero is all about!
Cosplay-for-charity groups are nonprofit organizations who use their passion to bring attention to various noble causes and have a little fun while doing it. They'll attend comic cons or organize events of their own to inspire people and put smiles on their faces. Admit it, we've all passed by those donation boxes in grocery stores without blinking. But if you saw Superman and Spider-man at a table, taking pictures with kids, wouldn't you go check them out? And if you saw they were raising money for the local food bank or homeless shelter, well! Isn't that just typical of your friendly neighborhood heroes?
How do you get started, you might ask? First, check and see if there are already any organizations in your area. Some people do this solo, but if you're just getting started, it helps to find a group of like-minded people who can support and help you, and already have connections with local charities and hospitals.
For this kind of "cause play," you want as high-quality costume as possible, to make it as real as possible for your audience. You are bringing children's heroes to life, and bringing attention to whatever charities your organization has chosen to represent with their fundraising. Many of these organizations have high standards for the costumes they'll accept, and this pastime can set you back a good amount of money. But I promise you, it's worth it. You can't put a price on the smiles you'll get from children, both young and grown-up. Nor can you put a price on that feeling you get from knowing you've helped make someone else's life just a little bit more magical.
Every child has dreamed of being a superhero. Bet you're surprised that some of those kids grew up to live that dream, huh?
"I have learned over the years that the Slightest thing that one does can have a permanent impact on someone's life. Good or bad. The littlest off the cuff comment can haunt someone for years. This being the case, I decided that I would make all effort to ensure that what ever impact that I had would be positive and empowering. When I was in costume, I watched the way that people reacted to me, and realized that for some, it was something that they would remember for the rest of their lives. Just showing up dressed in a costume, being that character, gave an instant connection to people, especially children. They suddenly realized that there was More out in the world than they had thought. It was not just filled with 'Gangstas' and Bullies, but by Heroes as well. Big as Life.
Everyone who has worn a costume enough can tell you of a specific time when they connected with someone on a Hero Level, and it Changed them both for the better. If someone has not experienced that yet, they will, soon. I know that you understand what I mean." -Liam Stillman, co-founder of the Arizona Avengers/East Coast Avengers (ironically, as Deadpool)