Victoria: When does your hospital tour begin and when is the end date?
Dustin: The tour begins on September 3rd of this year. Just less than a month away. The end date is likely sometime in December, but I'm still not sure yet. It just depends on when the various hospitals are available for my visits as well as my obligations for my regular job.
Victoria: Cosplayers visiting hospitals is something people have been doing for years, particularly members of the Hero Alliance. You decided to take it a step further and make this a national tour. Why so?
Dustin: I actually have a lot of friends in the Hero Alliance as well as in the Costumers with a Cause group. They inspired me to start visiting hospitals as Superman. I had always wanted to do such things in the past, but I only had a bone-claw Wolverine costume. I didn't think that a blood-soaked wild man would be that comforting to the kids, haha. After I switched over to Superman costuming, I began researching my options in hospital visitation. Many hospitals require you to be part of an established group in order to visit in costume, so that was my first obstacle. I have a friend that works in a hospital in New Hampshire who invited me to come visit in costume when I was working in her area this August. I was thrilled! Though, sadly, my work in that area was cancelled so I wasn't able to visit the kids either. That REALLY bummed me out. I was desperately looking for a way to get up to NH to visit the hospital anyway. I was pricing bus tickets, plane tickets, fuel costs to drive there, etc. and I suddenly thought, "Why spend all of this money to visit one hospital, when I can visit ALL OF THEM?" and the project began from there. It was originally just the east coast of the US. Then it grew to the eastern half and eventually grew to be the entire country as well as part of Canada. The support and demand from the public at large was just phenomenal and I didn't have the heart to say no.
Victoria: Why is it important to you to visit hospitalized children?
Dustin: I just know that superheroes helped me cope with a lot of hard times in my life. I was always fascinated by the hero persona, whether it be comic book, adventure tale or action movie. I just want to be able to help inspire these kids in the same way that my heroes inspired me. I feel like the most important job of any hero isn't necessarily saving each person directly, but more-so in inspiring them to save themselves.
At the same time, I often see people with good intentions who don't act on them because they are ashamed of their good nature. We live in a world where one can gain bragging rights from how many moral sacrifices they've made in order to reach their goals. I prefer to believe that it's much more impressive to see just how far you can go with your integrity in-tact. This international journey is about more than just children with illnesses. I'm making such a large spectacle of it so that any onlookers who witness these acts might be inspired to act upon their own good natures. I want to prove that old-fashioned decency still has a place in the modern world and I want to show that it's okay to be a good person.
Victoria: How are you hoping to impact their lives?