Some may remember the story of window washers dressing up as superheroes to clean windows at a children’s hospital earlier this year. Many thought it was a great thing to do for the kids, which it was.
But there are others out there who have taken time and their own resources to do this on a regular basis. Meet Amazon Princess – Wonder Woman, Scott Smith and Burlington Batman, three people who don the outfits of popular superheroes to appear at charity events for kids. While CosPlay, (Costume Play) is a popular pastime where people dress up as characters for fun, these people are not CosPlayers, at least not in the traditional sense of the term. “Sometimes the world of cosplay can get very competitive and cut-throat, if you can believe it.” said Smith, “ So there are the strange random comments, judgments and criticism from people you don’t know, or have not met you, but they’ll put you down – I pay them little attention.”
Amazon Princess – Wonder Woman: “I have always been a big fan of Wonder Woman growing up. She was always my favorite superhero. I guess for me I focused more on her as a character because of whom she represented. “ “Throughout my journey on getting healthy and fit and changing the way I lived my life more on the positive aspect and how I grew as a person. I became stronger, more confident and not afraid to go after my dreams/goals.”
You can follow her on Facebook
For Scott Smith Superman was the character he most identified with, he reflects about his initial idea to dress up as the character “It was interesting getting started. When I first told friends and family that I was going to dress up like Superman and go see kids, they all gave me a bit of a stunned look. However, each and every person who see’s me in character and sees me with the kids always says the same thing… “Ohhhhh. NOW I get it!”
Smith also enjoys drawing comics as seen in this pin up he did of Spider-Man
Burlington Batman says that it’s the smiles he sees that is the real draw ” I have fun dressing up as Batman, and it feels great when you make someone else feel good, and bring a smile to their face.”
What first motivated you to take up your character?
Amazon Princess – Wonder Woman: “What first motivated me to take up my character of Wonder Woman was my decision to change the way I live my life. I wanted to live a healthier and positive lifestyle so I started exercising, changed my eating habits and focused on being more positive in life situations day to day that I had to face.”
Smith: “I have a strong connection to Superman. My personality is insanely like the characters. Also, I have a certain connection to his co-creator, the late Joe Shuster. We’re both artists, from Toronto, and we were both bullied as kids, and nerdy etc… When I was younger I shared Mr. Shuster’s ideal of secretly being someone special and I always wanted to help others who were being bullied or mistreated in some way, or form. As I got older and realized I could I do a lot of good, by using this icon (in a completely non-profitable way) than perhaps I could seriously give some hope where hope was needed – after all, it IS in the symbol!!”
Burlington Batman: “I grew up with superheroes in my life. My dad loved Batman, Superman and Spider-Man which he passed on to me. As a kid, I was super excited to watch the Adam West Batman show or Superfriends and would run around the house with my towel cape clothes pegged to me. Later on my dad introduced me to comic books. To this day I loved the fact that these superheroes worked together to help each other and always do the right thing. Batman was my number one though. He’s smart, strong, can always think his way out of a predicament and never approaches a situation unprepared. And his and gadgets…super cool! Another great thing about the Batsuit is that the cowl really hides your face; it could be anyone under the mask. I made a Batsuit in 1997 to hand out candy on Halloween. Each year I would modify my suit a little bit, trying to make it better but never quite satisfied. Eventually the UD replicas motorcycle suit came out and I was able to get something that was close to movie accurate. I made a cape out of two shower curtains and managed to suit up for FanExpo in 2010, (with lots of encouragement). And that was an overwhelming but amazing and fun experience”
How did you get into charity work in character?
Amazon Princess – Wonder Woman: ”Getting into charity work as Wonder Woman comes naturally. I always feel happy when I can give back some how so in doing so, I try to be available to help anyone who requires my help as Wonder Woman.
Smith: “I know it’s not a charity exactly, but I had started with The Joe Shuster Awards event in 2013. I then did a couple of sketches and appearances with “Toronto Batman” and before I knew it, people were actually taking me seriously as ‘Superman’. People were actually interacting with this character and listening to what I had to say even though they didn’t know me at all. I took advantage of that decided to use that voice and dramatic example to call attention to good causes that we all care about.”
Burlington Batman: “Charity work was something that I always wanted to do with the Batman character, but never seemed to have a lot of time. In 2011 I was speaking to a woman that had family in Goderich Ontario when it was struck by a massive tornado. She wanted to raise money for the victims that lived there. I told her that I had a Batman suit and would love to help out. So basically ran a big yard sale. It was pretty neat since Batman is such an identifiable character and people of all ages and backgrounds were waving as they drove by or would pull up to see what Batman was doing there. We raised a bit of money that day and I’d like to think that I helped at least a little to get people interested in our cause. Since then I’ve been asked to attend functions for various groups, mostly centered on children and it’s just a donation of my time. It’s a lot of fun for me and the kids really seem to enjoy meeting Batman.”
What keeps you committed to doing your charity work?
Amazon Princess – Wonder Woman: “What keeps me committed to doing any charity work is my passion and dedication. It makes my heart happy to know that I can make a difference in someone’s life just by being there as Wonder Woman. Helping out any way I can with collecting donations or just bringing a simple smile to make someone’s day. I’ll never forget the first time I put on my costume and went out in public, it was the first time I met my #1 Fan. A little girl named Viera. She walked up to me wearing a handmade cape, a Wonder Woman t-shirt and her forehead was painted with a red star. Her face lit up as she spoke to me and told me that I was her favorite superhero and that she was so excited to meet me. She called me Wonder Woman. My heart melted. Since that day, she has followed me to almost every event I have attended. Just seeing what an impact I have made in her life as Wonder Woman makes what I do that more special.”
Smith: “The memories. I’m not always the best with names, but believe me when I say that I remember each and every high five I get! I’ll never forget Kale, at Sick Kids, I’ll never forget Todd Boyce: the real hero of the Jeffery Baldwin Memorial. I’ll never forget the people in London ON, with Autism Awareness. There is NO profit in what we do in the suits. In fact, it costs us a fair amount in supplies, travel etc. – But when we see the impact of our visit, you see the smiles and moods rise, and the excitement in the eyes, and kids say “I’ll remember this forever!!!” as they run away…. There is no beating that feeling. “
Burlington Batman: ” I was at a children’s Christmas party recently, and I found the things that kids liked the most was simply giving them a few moments of my time. Answering their questions let them check out the suit and rummage through my utility belt. There were lots of smiles that day, and it just feels like I’m doing the right thing.”
Amazon Princess – Wonder Woman summed it up quite eloquently “It’s a feeling of peace, love that is indescribable but lasts forever. You crave it the more good you do.“ she said “It’s the amazing feeling of paying it forward and not asking or expecting anything in return. It’s the most incredible feeling in the world and really sometimes there are no words to even come close to describe what it feels like unless you experience it yourself.”
Three seemingly ordinary people, no different than the people you work with or pass on the street everyday but with one major difference; they prove that superheroes do exist and that the only real power one needs is a good heart to become one.
John Goodale is the author of ‘Johnny Gora’ (available through Amazon.com), and a number of articles here on TMRZoo.com. His monthly column ‘Indy Comics Spotlight’ appears here and through his blog Indy Comics Spotlight