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The cosplayers raising money for cancer support

Words by Abi Scaife

Still somewhat of a niche hobby, cosplay doesn’t register as ‘charitable’ for many people - yet Cosplay Against Cancer is proving the exact opposite. 

Cosplay, which originated in Japan and comes from the term ‘costume play’, is the art of making yourself look like a fictional character. It has grown increasingly popular in the last few decades and, like many people, there are those in the cosplay community who are turning a hobby they love into a way of supporting causes they care about.

“Cosplay Against Cancer started out as a small, almost naïve, idea I had back in the summer of 2017,” explains Mattis Langfeldt who is 29 and based in Norway. “I had just lost my father to cancer in May and I wanted to do something to honour his memory. I figured I could maybe make a Facebook fundraiser and maybe I’d be able to raise a handful of money that would go to the cancer foundation.”

Mattis Langfeld and Rikke Poulsson in Cosplay Against Cancer hoodies.

After speaking to Jørgen Lindalen, a cosplay photographer and good friend, Matty was inspired to take things a step further. Jørgen runs Cosplay Studio Norway and the website, and posed the question; ‘why not make it bigger?’.

Over the course of the summer of 2017, Cosplay Against Cancer went from a one-time Facebook fundraiser to an organisation with board members and a true, fully-fledged purpose.

“I will admit had it not been for [Jørgen] and every single person that was involved in the planning of the launch, then Cosplay Against Cancer would’ve never become a thing,” says Matty. “And without my friends joining the board the charity probably wouldn’t have lasted more than a year. I would’ve been satisfied making a small amount of money through a Facebook fundraiser, but all the work we did together made it so that we could help more people and I am eternally grateful for all their help.

“Now five and a half years later we’ve become a staple name in the Norwegian cosplay community.”

Today, Cosplay Against Cancer helps to raise cancer awareness through the cosplay community, travelling to different conventions and cosplay events across Norway. By doing this, Matty and his friends at Cosplay Against Cancer hope to raise funds to support not only people who have cancer but those around them, too.

Here they sell merchandise, host competitions, and even provide a safe space for people to talk about their experiences with cancer to someone who understands.

A poster created by Camilla Dahlstrøm (@CamishArt), a CAC boardmember.

“While cosplayers and independent artists may not swim in money they will support and help in whatever capacity they can, and it doesn’t necessarily have to be by donating money,” explains Matty. “We’re fortunate to be a part of a very giving and inclusive community and at every convention [that] we attend people will come to our stand and ask how they can help.“

Though cosplay is still a very niche hobby, it is one that people from all walks of life can, and do, become involved in. It is this openness and inclusivity that Matty attributes to their ability to support people whose lives have been affected by a cancer diagnosis.

Initially, all of the money raised by Cosplay Against Cancer went straight to The Norwegian Cancer Foundation, but today they support a variety of charities and organisations.

“The year COVID-19 hit and all conventions and events in Norway were cancelled was a hard year and Cosplay Against Cancer lost their main income. With no events to go to we were unsure of what to do,” says Matty, who still heads up the charity with the help of three of his close friends. “We did, however, have some funds left over in our account that we hadn’t donated yet and after some brainstorming, we agreed to buy toys for the children’s ward at a local hospital. 

“We agreed that being in quarantine as a regular person was bad enough but being in quarantine at a hospital and barely getting to see any of your family must have been torture. We wanted to help make their hospital stay just a little bit more bearable.”

Astrid Mogstad, Mattis Langfeldt and Rikke Poulsson

In 2022, Cosplay Against Cancer made the decision to support a local hospice, in memory of Matty’s mother, who had regular stays there before she passed away.

“She would constantly tell me about the great work they do for their patients and how it was like a second home to her,” explains Matty, who holds the cause close to his heart. “It was actually her idea that I should consider donating to the hospice and in a way, it was her last wish because she mentioned this during one of the last conversations I had with her.”

Though Cosplay Against Cancer have broadened their horizons, at the heart of their charity remains the need to help people through some of the most difficult periods in their life.

“I do sometimes chuckle at how far we’ve come and how we started because my father never really understood cosplay, what it was or what it meant to me,” says Matty. “He would just say ‘hey as long as my kid is having fun, I guess… but it is a bit odd.’ And now there’s a charity organization made in his memory!”

This article aligns with the UN SDG Good Health and Wellbeing and Partnership for the Goals.

This article aligns with the following UN SDGs

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