Creative costumes pay off for charity

EVERETT — It started as a dare.

About a year and half ago, Allen Sessing-Hunter of Everett was playing video games with his friends when they started talking about the upcoming movie “Iron Man 2.” They saw a preview and started talking about the helmet worn by actor Robert Downey Jr.

Sessing-Hunter claimed he could make a helmet like the one in the movie. His friends dared him to do it. About two weeks after that, he showed it to them.

“They were blown away and surprised,” Sessing-Hunter, 21, said.

He enjoyed the challenge so much, that he kept creating different superhero costumes. In total, he has made eight costumes such as Iron Man, the transformer Optimus Prime and comic book hero Nova.

He then joined the Northwest Mutant Academy and Comic Book Characters for Causes, two groups of people from around Snohomish and King counties who like making and wearing costumes of fictional characters.

Since joining the groups, Sessing-Hunter has participated in different charity events by wearing his costumes. He has gone to comic book and anime conventions, food drives and cancer fundraiser walks. He estimates he has been in about 20 events wearing a costume of some kind.

Wearing a superhero costume and pretending to be the character is called “cosplay,” which derives from the words costume and play. Sessing-Hunter doesn’t describe himself as a cosplayer but as a “costumer,” which is someone who just likes making and wearing costumes, but he doesn’t act like the character, he said.

He makes the costumes out of various materials including vinyl, cotton and plastic. He usually does not keep the costume after he’s done with it. He keeps the helmets, which he displays as trophies on a wall at his south Everett apartment.

Making them gives him a sense of accomplishment. He also believes he gets better after each costume.

Last weekend, Sessing-Hunter was one of about 40 people who wore costumes for the “Marvel vs. DC Make-A-Wish Fundraising Day” at the BobaKhan Toy Store in downtown Everett.

Click here to see a photo gallery of the event.

Originally, Sessing-Hunter was going to attend as the X-Men’s Archangel, but after seeing the movie “The Avengers,” he instead decided to create a costume as Loki, the Norse god and Marvel supervillain.

“I fell in love with his costume,” he said.

The event was the first of a series of monthly fundraisers the store is doing from June to December to benefit different charities. The plan is to have people in costumes attend every event, said Les Spraggins, one of the store owners.

“People love superheroes. If we can bring joy to a little boy that would be awesome,” she said.

About 500 people attended the store and $500 was raised for the Make-a-Wish foundation, she said.

Redmond resident Beau Sibuma was invited to attend by Spraggins. Over the past six years he has dressed up for different events organized by Hope Church at Silver Lake. In his first fundraiser event, he wanted to be the Hulk. To become bigger and more imposing, he added stilts for his costume — which were covered by pants and green feet.

He attended the event because it could be fun and it was a good opportunity to act different, he said.

“When I was the Hulk, I was 7 feet tall, I was larger than life and I was a little boy’s hero,” Sibuma, 31, said.

Mill Creek resident Crystal von Oy, 38, has made costumes for more than three years. Most of them have been of characters from Star Wars. Von Oy, who also works at BobaKhan, wore the costume of Jean Grey, a character in the X-Men series.

“It’s a creative outlet for me,” she said.

Alejandro Dominguez: 425-339-3422; adominguez @heraldnet.com.

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