Not all heroes wear capes.
Yet many of the everyday heroes who fill the ranks of selfless service in the League of Enchantment, in fact, do.
For the past four years, cosplayers for the nonprofit have been spreading joy to children in unfortunate situations, giving proof of the good that can happen when a hobby provides positive promise.
“We suit up as superheroes, princesses or furries — any characters that children recognize and enjoy,” said Shamus Smith, president of the League of Enchantment. “We visit hospitals, also working with Make-A-Wish, the American Cancer Society, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and others to help give children in an unwelcome situation a positive experience and spread smiles, love and hope.”
By the end of the first year of the League of Enchantment, the organization was up to 38 members. Now, the group has 85 members and is growing. In a non-pandemic year, members of the League of Enchantment attend 250 community events put on by organizations like Make-A-Wish and the American Cancer Society, along with visiting hospitals on a weekly basis to meet with children. Each of the hospitals can have anywhere from 12 to 120 children as patients at a given time, making the league a real force for good.
Now, with the fantastic success that the group has had in Michigan, the League of Enchantment is looking to expand into places like Chicago or Dallas, building additional groups of more likeminded individuals to spread joy to children.
When it comes to their costumes, members are responsible for their own creations, whether they make the gear themselves or improve on existing costumes anyone can buy.
“When it comes to myself, I like to build stuff,” said Smith. “I’ve always been a hands-on person. So, I work with EVA foam, plastics, 3D-printed materials and out-of-the-box thinking with different materials to bring the costume together. My girlfriend does the sewing with fabrics and leatherwork, so between us we can make a lot of different things. But our members range from special homemade costumes to buying something from a party store and improving it.”
All the members of the League of Enchantment are volunteers, meaning they do all these visits and costume work in their free time — sort of like their secret identity.
“We do this for fun, and we do it for the kids,” Smith said. “We do it for that one hug from that one kid in a hospital bed who’s struggling to get through the day and being able to change that day into something special: Seeing the eyes of a child light up when they get to meet their favorite character in real life. The things that I wish that I had gotten to see when I was a kid.”
With great pastime comes great responsibility. If you’d like to contribute or contact the League of Enchantment, visit the organization’s website at leagueofenchantment.org.