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Interview with Heroes Alliance

Interview with Heroes Alliance


Interview by: Rogue Benjamin

Hey there everyone! Northern Belle Rogue here with another interview coming at you guys. This time the charitable cosplay team is Heroes Alliance. I’m lucky enough now to sit down with Michael Cox, national Heroes Alliance Council Chairman as well as one of the Facebook admins...
Rogue: Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me.

Michael: Of course! Thank you!

Interview with Heroes Alliance
(Photo by Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta)

Rogue: So let’s dive right in shall we? For anyone who may not be aware of your organization could you tell us a bit about Heroes Alliance?

Michael of HA: The Heroes Alliance is a national non-profit superhero costume charity organization. While we do not collect money or raise funds ourselves, we support other charities and plan events with hospitals and community groups with the purpose of bringing a “real life” superhero experience to children and families.

Rogue: Who founded the Heroes Alliance and how did that inspiration come about?

Michael of HA: The group was founded in Tampa, Florida in 2005, roughly a year before my wife and I joined. The idea was to use the talents and high-quality costumes of the volunteers in order to better their communities.

Interview with Heroes Alliance
(Photo by Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta)

Rogue: Are there any specific organizations that the HA routinely works with? Or do you simply find events/causes as you go?

Michael of HA: Children love superheroes and really want to believe in them, so charities supporting children are great partners for us. Every branch is different and works regularly with many different charity and community groups. Some of the common ones that many of our branches are involved with are Make-A-Wish, Autism Speaks, CASA Superhero Run, and the National Down Syndrome Society. Our dedicated branch leaders are always hard at work reaching out and coordinating with charities like these and others but we’re definitely available should new groups contact us for our unique services.

Rogue: Recently we saw that you had a “Cape Day” – could you tell us a bit more about that?

Michael of HA: Our Georgia team has always had a great partnership with Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and this was one of their very special events. For an entire week, our volunteers came out for different events with Super DJ, a little boy who had been hospitalized for about six months. He loves superheroes and really came out of his shell among the staff during his extended stay when he was given a cape. Last Friday, November 7th, the whole city was encouraged to wear capes for the official “Cape Day” for Super DJ. The following morning, HA Georgia organized a large group of superheroes to come out and help DJ with a monumental task: blowing up a building! It was a huge event that the city really got behind and DJ got to push the button that brought down a 19-story building. It was really special for everyone!

Interview with Heroes Alliance
(Photo by Bodhi Tree Photography)

Rogue: What has been one of your favourite moments relating to your work with the Heroes Alliance?

Michael of HA: I’ve been with the HA as a volunteer for over eight years now and it’s really hard to narrow down my favorite interactions with the kids. They inspire me so much when I come out at these events, and I’m sure my fellow costumed volunteers will tell you the same thing. For me especially, as a leader, the best aspect has been watching our mission spread across the country as more and more branches are chartered. We never reach out to people from our end and our process for standing up a new team somewhere in the US is not an easy one. Therefore, everyone who comes to us wanting to join our group by leading a team knows they’re getting into a great deal of work (on top of school, career, family, etc.) and will be scrutinized as a prospective leader. I’ve been elected council chairman for five years now and, while I want to see our group in every major area of the country, the balance has been ensuring that the growth is done responsibly. I’m so proud of the relationships I have with my fellow council members and the branch leaders in making sure we’ve found that balance.

Rogue: What kind of heroes do you accept? Do they have to be purely Marvel, or DC or is any superhero fair game?

Michael of HA: Yes, our mission and theme is specifically DC and Marvel superheroes. Like the 501st with the Galactic Empire of Star Wars or the Ghostbusters around the country, we knew it would be important to have a focused theme. DC and Marvel superheroes are everywhere now—from kids cartoons to prime-time television to blockbuster movies. Every kid knows Superman and Spider-Man, but more and more are getting to know Black Widow and The Flash too. It’s a great time to be a superhero fan as both an adult and a child!

Interview with Heroes Alliance
(Photo by Bodhi Tree Photography)

Rogue: And of course, you have had a couple ‘Rogues’ haven’t you?

Michael of HA: Absolutely! You’ll see her with many other X-Men in our teams’ ranks!

Rogue: So how does your organization feel about double casting? (Example – having 2 Spider-Mans etc.)

Michael of HA: That is strictly prohibited. In addition to planning events, our branch leaders make great effort in ensuring that we have a solid and diverse team of superheroes when organizing prior to heading to meet the kids. If our mission is to bring a “real life” superhero experience to kids, then we don’t want to do anything to put doubt in their minds (kids will surprise you!). Thus, having two of the same character at an event simply won’t work. However, we certainly encourage our volunteers to have a diverse collection of superheroes hanging in their closets. For example, I typically tend to do events as Captain America but often I’ll step in as Batman when one of our normal Batman volunteers can’t make it. It’s definitely good to have a few guys and girls on each team that have some of the big name characters and we’ll often rotate such characters on the roster locally for events.

Interview with Heroes Alliance
(Photo by Mojo By Jojo Photography)

Rogue: So at the event itself you want only one of each character, but theoretically you could have four Captain America’s on a team? That’s pretty neat. So if someone wanted to join the Heroes Alliance, how might they go about doing that? What are the requirements for joining the team?

Michael of HA: The first step is to fill out an application on the website, (under the ‘Join Us’ screen). From there, the webmaster will forward your application along to the appropriate branch leader. If none exists, then we’d have to look into the process of chartering a new branch, which would be another matter entirely and the council will contact the individual in such an instance. Other specific requirements are available in our Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) on the website (also available under the ‘Join Us’ screen).

Rogue: And where is the Heroes Alliance based out of?

Michael of HA: We’re a national team that’s founded in Tampa. We don’t have a headquarters, per se, and even the council (being that the members are voted out of a national election) don’t live in the same state.

Interview with Heroes Alliance
(Photo by Mojo By Jojo Photography)

Rogue: So does that mean that anyone can join the team so long as they live in the USA?

Michael of HA: You must be at least 18 years-old and able to pass a criminal background check. We are open to expanding outside the borders of the US, but have not had serious inquiries at this time.

Rogue: How many members does the HA have to date? Are you always accepting new members?

Michael of HA: We’re always accepting new applications! As for membership, that would be hard to say. Our webmaster might be able to give a number as to the online applications filled out, but even that isn’t a great measure (volunteers must complete three events to be considered ‘active’ status).

Rogue: Do members make their own costumes?

Michael of HA: Our volunteers are no different than any other costumer in that regard. Most of them make their own costumes or purchase them. As a non-profit, the HA does not provide funding or compensation to members for their superhero costumes. However, having an existing superhero suit isn’t a requirement for joining. Often times, especially at really complex events, having an out-of-costume support person is extremely important—as important as Batman or Wonder Woman, even. And we’re always looking for photographers, as pictures help tell our story to the world via social media and our website, which helps with both recruiting new volunteers and getting noticed by new children’s charity or community groups.

Interview with Heroes Alliance
(Photo by Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta)

Rogue: You also have a store full of Heroes Alliance merchandise do you not? What kind of merchandise do you have and how does this support the team?

Michael of HA: We have a Café Press store that can be found linked to our Facebook and website. The Heroes Alliance merchandise includes things like t-shirts, polos, and bags and 10% of the proceeds go to St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital. The HA receives no profit from it but we encourage both members and supporters to head over there and purchase merchandise to show their support!

Rogue: Do you have any events coming up that you would like to tell our readers about?

Michael of HA: Our branch leaders are always planning local events, so there are literally dozens in the works right now across the US. For the Georgia team (which I’m part of), the year is winding down into the holidays, so we definitely have some things planned around that. Most HA events are in coordination directly with the charity group and are often private. However, for Georgia, we’ll definitely be at the annual Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta parade in early December, which runs through midtown and is televised!

Interview with Heroes Alliance
(Photo by Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta)

Rogue: Where on the internet or in social medial can our readers find you? (FB, Twitter, Google Plus etc.)

Michael of HA: We have a Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter, all of which can be found linked to the main website.

Rogue: Wonderful! Thank you so much for answering all my questions. Now, just a few quick short answer ones so our readers can get a taste of your personal style, not only the organization’s.

Favourite Superhero Movie: Ooh, that’s tough. Sometimes I’m feeling The Dark Knight, other times The Avengers. Those two are tied.
Favourite Comic Series: Another tie! Geoff Johns’ run on Green Lantern and Busiek’s run on The Avengers.
Favourite Graphic Novel: X-Men: God Loves, Man Kills, by Chris Claremont and Brent Anderson
Favourite Superhero television series: Star Trek
Favourite Character to Dress Up As: Another tough one, but I’d probably say Green Lantern (Hal Jordan)
Favourite Superhero: Superman
Favourite Villain: Sinestro
Favourite Superhero Team: Justice League
Favourite Colour: Blue
Favourite Food: MEAT
Favourite Animal: Dogs, specifically my English bulldog, Scout, and Boston Terrier, Sofie
Favourite Super power: Flight

Rogue: Anything else you’d like to add?

Michael of HA: Thank you so much for interviewing me and giving me the opportunity to talk about our great group and its mission! I ask anyone who is interested in the HA to look into getting involved and those who support our mission, please ‘Like’ us on Facebook and help spread the word about what we do!

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December 05 2014

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