Cosplay—a portmanteau of “costume play”—encourages participants to dress like characters from their favorite movies, TV shows, video games, and more. While some do it for the thrill of being recognized at comic book and anime conventions and other events, there’s a special contingent of cosplayers who use their costumes for the greater good of the community at large.
In March, Fluke Skywalker went viral for a short clip of him using American Sign Language with a man at an event. It drew the attention of several celebrities online, including Mark Hamill (aka Luke Skywalker) himself.
Over the course of one year, I lost 90 pounds. I walked into Lowe’s in Milford and a guy asked me if anybody’d ever told me I looked like Mark Hamill. Shortly after that, a new Star Wars movie came out. I went to see it and a guy pointed at me and shouted out, “Hey, Luke Skywalker!” That made me start thinking that I could use the look to help out charities. I asked my wife to buy me my costume for my birthday and Christmas 2017, we went to Ronald McDonald House and donated a large amount of toys. My first visit was a big hit so every three months, my wife and I go shopping for Star Wars toys and load up the toy closet.
I found that people would pay to have me come to their birthday party or corporate event or even marry them legally in a Star Wars-themed wedding. Since I’m a volunteer, I asked them to write a tax-deductible check to a charity I support and that seems to have worked really well. Everyone wins! It’s nice to be able to use this look and make other people happy. It’s an absolute privilege to see people excited to have a photo with me. I’ve seen grown men dance in place in line without realizing it because they’ve turned back into a 6-year-old boy who saw his first Star Wars movie.
I was just accepted in the Outer Rim Guilds, a branch of Lucasfilm that sends cosplayers to special events. To be selected to do this means you are in the top 1 percent of the best cosplayers on the planet. It was truly an honor to be invited to be in the group with the best Star Wars cosplayers on Earth.
Skot Chase started Cincinnati Ghostbusters with his daughter earlier this year. This winter, the organization is hosting its first food and toy drive, which includes several local comic shops, toy stores, and fire departments as drop-off locations.
My daughter and I usually dress as Ghostbusters in full gear—jumpsuit, utility belt and proton packs. We would always dress up creating memories together and have a great time doing so. Four years ago, we suited up and went to an event at Kings Island and were overwhelmed with how much everyone loved our costumes. We joined The Real Ohio Ghostbusters, out of Dayton, and helped them with raising money for children’s charities. My daughter and I decided that we wanted to do more for our community and started the Cincinnati Ghostbusters to help raise money for Make-A-Wish and so many other children’s charities in the tri-state.
Every time we cosplay is memorable. When we first suited up and went out, an older gentleman was so super excited to see us, like we were celebrities. He asked if he could get his picture with us and told us how much he loves Ghostbusters, so we get ready to pose and take a picture with him and I unhooked my Neutrona wand [the blaster that the characters use to capture ghosts] from my pack and handed it to him. To see the excitement in his face was the greatest moment for us.
It’s the greatest feeling in the world to see faces filled with joy and amazement, young and old. We are going to continue to keep doing better and going bigger with every event in every way possible. That’s when we are making a difference—one smile at a time.
Sav Marie works with costuming nonprofits United Chaos and Magical Adventure Parties, and has appeared at several holiday parties for the Greater Cincinnati chapter of Boys and Girls Club of America.
When I was a sophomore in high school, a friend asked me to go to Ohayocon (a convention in Columbus) and I always loved dressing up in costumes and doing fun makeup looks so it sounded amazing. I was a theater kid in high school and Halloween is my favorite holiday, so cosplay instantly became a hobby for me. Acting in character just came naturally. Even before my first con, I was already making my friends laugh by singing as Harley Quinn.
One event I absolutely love attending is the Wild Hearts Fun Run in Kentucky, which benefits families affected by coronary heart disease. Recently, I joined up with Untied Chaos, a nonprofit costume organization where volunteers dress up and spend time giving back to the community. They have worked with lots of organizations like Make-A-Wish and The Dayton Veterans Association, just to name a few.
Being recognized is fun but for me, the best part overall is being able to just interact with fans. I love talking, listening to their stories, sharing hugs and high fives. These are the absolute best parts of every charity event or con I attend.
I love when the kids say that I am their favorite character or when the adults tell me that I’ve reminded them of their childhood. I mean, I’m just a girl who decided one day to wake up and put on a silly costume. To think I can brighten someone’s day or make them forget their stress for even a minute is a feeling that’ll be hard to top.