The 501st Legion is an international Star Wars cosplay group that do large amounts of fan-based fundraising for different causes.
The organisation prides itself on authentic-looking Star Wars costumes and quirky fundraising activities from trash compactor photo booths to charity walks in hot costumes – physically and aesthetically!
501st member Ashley Bryson is an avid cosplayer who is constantly working on different costumes for pop-culture conventions such as Supanova, where he usually spends whole days at events showcasing these costumes – and he has an impressive collection: Indiana Jones, Severus Snape, and even Korean pop superstar Psy.
The pop-culture community is very involved in participating in conventions, with conventions such as Supanova getting up to 20,000 visitors in one city – which of course not only includes cosplayers, but regular folk.
“I just like how it’s a wide variety of different people in the cosplaying thing, and there’s all different reasons why people do it,” says Bryson. “It’s such a diverse world, but if you’re not in it you think, ‘Oh, yeah it’s just a group that costumes!’ but there’s so many ways people go about it and reasons why – some people just do it because they’re fans of the particular costume, some people just like that outfit so they’re gonna do it.”
In his collection he also has a highly detailed Storm Trooper costume, which he has spent over $1000 on and devoted a lot of spare time to perfecting, that he wears when representing the 501st Legion.
Bryson has been with the 501st for about three years now, starting out as a cadet before becoming a full member.
“I was a bit of a cadet for a while before I finally got through and made my Storm Trooper,” says Bryson, who has spent a lot of time and money perfecting his costume.
Fundraising-wise he is currently training for a 60km charity walk which he will be doing in October.
“We’re aiming to hit about $2000 per walker, I’ve raised about $1600 myself just for that walk,” says Bryson. “Even just doing things like walking from Southport to Surfer’s Paradise and back in Storm Trooper gear trying to raise awareness and rattling the tin – you know, people taking photos and entertaining people.”
The 501st has contributed to a lot of different charities including the Starlight foundation, Red Cross, The Salvation Army, all while doing what they love – turning their favourite fiction into reality.
“Any event – just say hi, drop a dollar in, we’re happy to get photos.”
Why does fundraising for illness have to be so serious, anyway?
You can donate to Ashley here:
And read about the 501st here:
By Rikki Browne