Sunday, August 12, 2012

Hospital Heroes Tour with Dustin Dorough

When news via Facebook spread that a national hospital tour was in the works featuring The Man of Steel visiting children's hospitals around the country, it certainly sparked my curiosity. Hospital visitations by comic book characters is a charitable act that I have always admired and I was impressed that someone was driven to expand on the idea. Dustin Dorough is the man behind the Hospital Heroes Tour and will be spreading hope and strength throughout the U.S. as Superman.


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?

Dustin: I want to give them the greatest gift of all: Hope. You never hear stories about overly-pessimistic and downtrodden individuals having miraculous recoveries after an illness. It's always the ones who refuse to give up who actually get the results that they want. I want to remind these kids of the strength that they have within them and to make them feel just as heroic as any of the members of the Justice League. That's why I'm going to be passing out "Certificates of Heroism" in recognition of their bravery in fighting their illness and for the inspiration they've provided to others by being so strong.

Victoria: Why did you select Superman as your character?

Dustin: Superman is the ultimate inspiration for me. He's a man who can destroy the earth, but chooses to serve it. He lost his planet, but protects ours. He has every single reason imaginable to be angry, bitter and upset, but he is a constant shining symbol of hope and inspiration. He's also very iconic and recognizable to the younger kids. Superman is also much less likely to frighten children than other characters such as Batman.

Victoria: Are you a cosplayer?

Dustin: Yup! I've been active in the convention community since 2007 when I first came to Dragon*Con. I used to make and sell custom costume props online, but I had to let go of that business because of other opportunities. Since beginning, I've had costumes of a Spartan, Power Ranger, Mad Max, Rambo, Green Lantern, Wolverine, Superman and Sterling Archer. I currently have two more Superman costumes on the way to use on this tour. Though, I will be obtaining the Man of Steel costume from next year's movie very soon afterward. After this tour, I will likely cosplay as Captain Marvel, Nightwing and Batman to put some variety back into my spandex lifestyle, haha.

Victoria: You're currently raising money to help with your cause. Can you tell my readers how they can donate?

Dustin: Donations can be made through the fundraising page at www.indiegogo.com/hospitalheroes

Victoria: What is your current occupation?

Dustin: That is one of the most difficult questions to answer, haha. I generally just classify myself as a professional adventurer. I haven't been in one city for longer than seven days since last year. I travel working as the emcee for the Spartan Race series (http://www.spartanrace.com/), posing with tourists on Bourbon Street in my Superman uniform, building custom racing boats in Florida (I'm part of the CAL500 race team for a 2,400 mile powerboat race from Cowes, England to Monaco next June.) and I work on various TV shows and movies that film around the southeastern United States. I was once a recurring bailiff on "Drop Dead Diva", a werewolf on "Vampire Diaries", zombie on "The Walking Dead" (I was originally hired to be Shane's body double, but I was too big, so they made me a zombie instead), a Federal Security Agent in "G.I.Joe II" and I did a lot of work as a stand-in for Billy Crudup and Will Forte in the new movie, "The Watch". I just kind of follow the adventure and let life lead me wherever I should go.


Victoria: Will you be attending any conventions this year?

Dustin: Wizard World Chicago. After that, I'll be at Dragon*Con in Atlanta and then New York Comic Con in October. There might be others, but it all depends on my tour schedule. I love going to as many conventions as possible, but time and money usually get in the way.

Victoria: If this tour is successful, would you consider doing it again in the future?

Dustin: That honestly depends on how I personally react to the experience. I have no doubts that the tour will be successful, because I refuse to let it fail. I feel like this trip needs to happen at least once. Though, I do know that I'm going to be seeing thousands of children in pain. There will be terminal cancer patients, burn victims, abused children, etc. and that kind of thing is likely to take an emotional toll. I've scheduled "off" days along the way to keep those feelings from building up too much, but there will still be the chance of it becoming overwhelming. Such experiences could honestly go one of two ways with me: They could depress me to the point of never wanting to do this again OR they could depress me to the point of understanding just how important my job as Superman really is, and will leave me with no choice but to do it again. (Knowing me, it will probably be the latter.) Though, I can't say anything for certain because I never know what opportunities or adventures might lie just around the corner. Who knows? Maybe I'll do a European tour next.

1 comment:

  1. I would love to talk to you about costume design, if you would email me at evelynelizabeth702@gmail.com. I would appreciate it :) I am new to the costume making...world lol.

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