When attending a modern Comic or Entertainment convention, it is almost impossible to avoid sensory overload. There are so many fantastic colors and shiny objects that draw your attention from second to second. Despite that massive onslaught of distractions, in the first hour on the floor of C2E2, our attention was grabbed by two little boys. They were in full cosplay costumes. One was Ant-Man, and the other was Woody from Toy Story. Pretty cute! Right?
What made these two little guys stand out to us was that they were in wheelchairs, and their personal transport vehicles were made to be a part of their cosplay. It was precious. We asked and were granted permission to take their pictures. They seemed to really enjoy it.
We made sure to include their pictures on our Facebook page, and they got quite the reception. Later on, during the Con, I stumbled across the booth for the people who helped to make those little boys’ dreams come true.
Walkin’ and Rollin’ is a non-profit organization that works to create costumes for mobility limited children. The founder Lon Davis created the organization in 2015 in Missouri. They now have multiple chapters in Kansas and California and are working to bring joy to young people everywhere. They appear regularly at PlanetComicon in Kansas City and made there debut in Chicago at C2E2 this year.
It is a fully set up non-profit organization. We encourage all readers to check out there website an consider what they can do to support this wonderful organization. They are even available to make as your designated charity on smile.amazon.com.
We here at Pop Culture Squad reached out to Lon and were able to ask him about the organization.
PopCultureSquad: We see from your website that this started with a desire to create a costume for your son. When did you start building costumes for other people?
Lon Davis: We launched Walkin’ & Rollin’ Costumes in January of 2015 setting everything up and establishing ourselves as a non-profit organization. We started building out the website and working on the foundation for what would become the network of volunteers and designs for all of the costumes with the hopes of Halloween 2015 being our first season of costumes. We debuted the business at Planet Comicon in Kansas City in April 2015 with a small booth showcasing costumes we had built for my son in past years with the hopes of signing up volunteers and maybe taking a few requests from kids in wheelchairs at the 3-day event. We ended up getting about 30-40 volunteers, about 5 costume requests and about $500 in donations to help build the costumes.
A couple months later, we launched a Kickstarter campaign to hopefully fund 5 costumes for Halloween and hoped to raise $1,000 dollars in 1 month. We raised it in a little over 2 days! We then said for every $250 over that we raised, we would try and build another costume for another child for Halloween. We ended up raising just under $3,000 by the end of the month, but due to our manpower and time, we were only able to complete 11 costumes in time for Halloween 2015!
PCS: How has your team grown since you started building costumes for your son?
LD: Originally, I started building the costumes when my son was 3 years old. But as he grew, he learned how to build them and continued to help me more and more. By the time we actually started Walkin’ & Rollin’ Costumes in 2015, Reese was building costumes and leading other teams build costumes. My wife, Anita, has always been helping behind the scenes as well. She likes to bling the costumes and loves to work on the princess costumes since we have two boys. Anita is now the “Director of Education Outreach” for Walkin’ & Rollin’ Costumes and works with all the schools around the nation that are building costumes for kids.
PCS: How long does it take you to create a costume, from start to finish?
LD: When a child requests a costume on our website, it sometimes takes a while to pair them up with a volunteer builder. There isn’t always someone located in their hometown, so we sometimes have to coordinate with builders in other cities who are willing to try and build them from afar. This is more challenging since they aren’t able to do test fittings and have to rely on the parents for measurements and photos and hope that everything will fit properly. Some volunteers aren’t comfortable doing that if they haven’t built a costume before. So. once we have paired the child up with a builder, the process typically takes about three months from start to finish. Some go a little quicker, but I like to tell the families that it is usually about three months.
PCS: How many costumes have you completed? Do you have a number that you are currently working on?
LD: At the end of 2018, we had completed 75 costumes for kids all over the nation. We currently have a list of kids that we are working on pairing them up with volunteers. We just revealed 3 new costumes to kids in the past 2 weeks, a Hogwarts Express that we gave away at C2E2 in Chicago, and then a Transformers Bumblebee and a Sesame Street costume that we gave away to 2 kids here in Kansas City.
We are currently working on about 13 more costume requests right now, and we haven’t even hit the Halloween season. When that hits this summer, we are hit with so many that we have choose which costumes we can make and unfortunately, which ones we won’t be able to have time or resources to make. Those are always the hardest choices to make.
PCS: Is there a limit to the area that you provide costumes for?
LD: We currently only provide costumes to kids (up to age 18) in the United States. Shipping costumes overseas to other countries would just be too costly. If I had some volunteers in other countries willing to build costumes for kids in those countries then I would gladly open it up to those countries, but right now, all of our operations are based in the United States.
Please also check out the YouTube Channel for Walkin’ and Rollin’. It is full of awesome videos.