And then there’s Viva Wonder Woman, an ordinary person, doing superhero things, unrelenting in her task to put smiles on faces, and cosplayers in costumes.
Her work is two-fold. By day, she builds costumes for her business, and by other days, she runs a successful organization in where she visits children in the hospital, dressed as Wonder Woman of course.
Mom, wife, entrepreneur, little kid spirit lifter. She’s super, not because she’s a superhero, but she believes that we all can be. Enjoy our interview with Viva Wonder Woman.
Going on four years as the Princess of the Amazon, what about WW personality resonates so strongly with you?
I fell in love with Wonder Woman as a little girl watching Lynda Carter rock her star-spangled granny panties.. she was beautiful and strong.. she was nurturing and sweet but could still be tough and kick some serious villainous booty.. everything I wanted to be when I grew up.. so little four-year old me proudly suited up in my underoos and I have been wearing them ever since!
Tell us about your charity, Heartfelt Heroes?
Heartfelt Heroes enables me to do all kinds of charity work dressed as Wonder Woman. I visit kids in hospitals, burn units, cancer centers, elementary schools and women’s/children’s shelters to name a few. I also visit assisted living centers and other special events including things like being at the starting line for the GIRLS ON THE RUN 5K RACE (Girls on the Run is a national group that trains little girls for a 5K while teaching them empowerment skills), etc. I also travel and have done charity work in Phoenix and Salt Lake City.
Pretty much any charitable endeavor that could use a superhero, I am there! I also have a program called “CAPES FOR A CAUSE” where I make personalized superhero capes for special kids all around the country. Kids dealing with fatal illnesses, devastating losses like losing a parent, those terribly hurt in an accident and those facing difficult disabilities. I make them a cape and a care package filled with items/toys based on their favorite superhero.
If they are local, I hand deliver the package in costume and if not, I make the child a short video of me in costume explaining that I made the cape for them, that I honor them for their bravery and assure them they have superheroes in their corner. I am assisted in my endeavors by my dear friends Tasha (cosplay name: Beautiful Blue Lantern), and Auri.
What was your motivation to start a charitable organization?
I first visited a hospital dressed as WW about three years ago so I felt like it was time for me to get the paperwork done and become a 501c so that my work could continue and grow.
Give us your top 5 most memorable moments with Heartfelt Heroes.
1. It is hard to pick a favorite moment when it comes to visiting the kids since they are all special.. I have been to burn units and seen severely disfigured children, I have walked hospital hallways with children recovering from severe accidents, I have colored pictures with little girls at the local women’s shelter who literally have nothing, and I have been in a hospital room where the nurse informed me the boy on the bed is most likely not going to make it and the family is crying and I am in the corner comforting his 5-year-old sister. How do you pick just one memorable moment out of all of that?
2. Has to be the time when THE Lynda Carter, my childhood idol, commented on a picture on my Facebook of me with a little girl that I was visiting who had cancer, and commended me for my charity work saying.. “Thank you for bringing joy to so many!!”
3. There is a girl that I meet years ago.. dealing with cancer.. and we have since developed a friendship and I will go and just see her and hang out with her in the sedation room at the hospital while she prepares for her Chemo treatments. Last October, she told me she wanted to be Wonder Woman for Halloween because of me.. and I was able to provide and make a costume for her. I love that she wanted to be not just WW for Halloween.. but in some ways Me as well.
4. Again it is hard to pick just one moment, but I love when I ship out a “Capes for a Cause” package and I get pictures back of the kids wearing my capes.. one such particularly great one, was of a little boy who suddenly lost his mother, running around all over town and his father thanking me, saying that, “He hasn’t taken it off since he got it.”
5. I would also be remiss if I did not give credit to the other members of HH, my good friends Tasha (who cosplays as Supergirl when we visit the kids.. cosplay name Beautiful Blue Lantern.. she was the one that pushed me to realize my dream of having a non-profit) and Auri (a man whom I have never met but who has graciously funded almost all of my charitable endeavors even though I have never, not once asked him to).
What are your goals for HH in 2015?
I am hoping to expand my Capes for a Cause program, so I can reach out and touch as many kid’s lives as possible! Eventually, I would love to have made a cape for at least one child in every state in the country!
How important do you think charity is in regards to the fabric of our society, and what can people and cosplayers do to get more involved in their communities?
Charity work is huge! And it is exactly what a superhero would do! I think it should be an integral part of cosplay.. cosplayers spend so much time to find/make the perfect costume so they can resemble these heroes.. so on top of just looking like them, why not act like them to!!
It truly is my favorite part because as much as I love walking a comic con floor all done up, nothing tops seeing a child’s face when you walk into their hospital room. As far as getting involved, cosplayers just need to get out there start making phone calls and spreading the word to find a place they can visit. It may take a lot of calls but once you get in somewhere the word will spread and you will find other doors opening.
Give us 24-hours with VIVA WW.
I guess that would depend on the day.. but you could pretty much sum it up like this… My alter ego: mild-mannered wife and mother of two. My cosplay ego: costuming geek girl trying to save the world one happy kid at a time!
Nerdiest thing about you?
I have been known to suit up in costume and go out in public and do random everyday things.. like mailing something at the post office, picking up a prescription at Wal-green’s, grocery shopping at Wal-Mart, and eating at In-N-Out. Perhaps my favorite Wonder Woman outing, was the time Wendy’s kid’s meals included a New 52 Wonder Woman toy and I showed up to order one in my New 52 Wonder Woman costume!
How has your costuming business taken off over the years?
I had been making costumes for myself and family/friends for years but it wasn’t until May 8, 2013 that I began officially selling them. Since then I have averaged 1.25 costumes sales every day since opening. My costumes have now sold in almost every state in the U.S., and in New Zealand, England, Canada, Australia, and Brazil.
Explain a little about Flex Comics and your affiliation with them?
I love FLEX COMICS! They picked me to be their first officially sponsored cosplayer! As a part of that, I model all their fitness gear for their website and promotions. They also offer an opportunity for people to donate to Heartfelt Heroes.. Anytime someone purchases something from their website, www.flexcomics.com, and uses check out code: VIVA, not only do they get free shipping but 20% of their sales is donated to my charity!
What’s your take on “sexy” cosplaying?
I don’t think you need to wear skimpy costumes or body paint to be a sexy cosplayer because the characters we are cosplaying are already portrayed and seen as sexy. Take WW for example, who doesn’t think she is sexy just the way she is! Not that I judge or would disagree with someone else’s interpretation, cosplay is an art form and everyone is entitled to their own creative definition and portrayal of their characters.
Supergirl vs. Wonder Woman, who walks away?
It is hard for me to envision hurting my SUPER BFF lol, but one thing is for sure, if it came down to a disagreement, Supes would always have my side! Do you like how I refer to myself as if I am really WW?? Haha.. always in character!
Which superhero do you think is most likely to get thrown out of a company party?
I will be honest I have no clue sooooooo I am skipping this one!!
We’re writing a book about your life, what’s the name and genre?
“Never underestimate the power of star-spangled panties and really cool boots” An action-packed, comedic auto-biography!