I started cosplaying at comic conventions about three years ago. I particularly love cosplaying with my Son (who is 9 years old). Because there are a number of comic conventions in Southern California, we have made a lot of new friends in the last few years which makes the experience even more enjoyable. I always enjoy making new friends in the convention / cosplay community because my experience in the community has been overwhelmingly positive.
More recently I was asked to join a local cosplay group called the West Coast Avengers. I wasn’t sure how much I would be able to contribute because most of the events are in Los Angeles, as much as two hours from where I live. I recently had an opportunity to earn my stripes as there was a hospital visit right here in San Diego.
We met at Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego, and visited many of the children who are hospitalized there. I was excited to do something with my cosplay, to give and do something for others, especially children. I was also nervous however, because having a perfectly healthy child of my own I wondered how difficult it would be for me to see sick and injured children in the hospital.
We met out front and were escorted inside where a changing room was set aside for us. After everyone got into their costumes we all met with several members of the hospital staff who gave us a few brief rules that we should adhere to during our visit. After that we were split into four groups of two and each group took a different floor.
I was dressed as Captain America, and was paired up with a good friend who was in her American Dream costume. We were escorted to the third floor which was the surgery floor. Once there, we were escorted around the whole floor, room by room, by a very nice hospital employee (all of the employees were very nice and super helpful throughout our visit).
Our escort would enter the room first, announce that Captain America and American Dream were there to visit, and ask if it was ok if we came into the room? Except for a couple of rooms where the children were sleeping, everyone (parents as well as children) were excited to see us. Some parents thought it was pretty cool but most thought it was even better just to see their children light up as we entered the room.
Some of the kids were pretty shy and quiet, but we talked to all of the children about who their favorite super heroes were, if they liked Star Wars, or Ninja Turtles (one little boy said he was going to be Raphael for Halloween). Another said that his favorite super hero was Batman, and despite Batman being DC and us both being Marvel, that was just fine with us. My personal favorite was a woman who brought her three week old baby to me, placed the baby in my arms and took our photo. She then said “Ooooh Daddy is going to be SO jealous when he gets back!” It was hilarious.
The parents took photos of us with nearly all of the children, and one Grandma really wanted to get a photo with the two of us which I thought was really awesome. Despite my concerns about how hard it would be to see sick children in the hospital, it wasn’t a problem at all because every single one of them was so happy to see us. To give those kids just a few minutes of joy and happiness, despite their situation, was amazing. But it did make me even more appreciative of the healthy child that I do have, and I did give him a really big, long hug when I picked him up at school that day.
But the best was yet to come We wrapped up our floor, met for a group photo and changed back out into our civilian clothes, then a few of us met up for a burger. While we were there, we were talking about the experience and a woman at the table next to us joined the conversation. She had overheard what we were saying and said that she actually worked at the same hospital. She thanked us repeatedly for visiting the kids, and added that whenever people visit the hospital like we had, it always has a lasting impression on the children and they talk about it for a long time afterwards.
While this isn’t at all why I got into cosplaying, it is by far the most enjoyable and most rewarding thing that I have done with my costume. Also – hospitals are very well air conditioned. If you’ve ever worn a costume, you know what I’m talking about. I can’t wait to do it again.
This is why I cosplay.
If you are interested in donating your time, please contact us at the Avengers Initiative – www.avengershq.com
All photos taken by the Event Coordinator Mark Chu-Lin