Out in force

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star wars fan
Natasha Birt channels her passion for Star Wars into fundraising. Photo: Christy Leitch

A member of two Star Wars charitable organisations, Natasha Birt VN of Kingsley Veterinary Hospital in WA is in touch with her dark and light side.

“I’ve been a longtime Star Wars fan and about five years ago, I joined two Star Wars cosplay groups. They’re worldwide organisations that raise money for various charities. Locally, we’ve helped the Starlight Foundation and have been part of the RSPCA dog walks. We’ve also done many hospital visits to raise the spirits of the patients.

“One group is called the 501st Legion or more colloquially, Vader’s Fist. This is for people who associate with the dark side of the force—Imperial officers, the Sith and Darth Vader. The motto of Vader’s Fist is ‘Bad guys doing good’. 

“The other group is called Rebel Legion and this is for the good guys—Jedi, Wookies and the Galactic Senate. Their motto is ‘Rebels for a cause’.

“I have an Imperial officer outfit for my dark side that makes me feel quite strong and determined. For my light side I wear a General Leia costume from The Force Awakens. Again, it truly makes me feel strong to play such an iconic character. I also like dressing as a Jedi as the kids really love lightsabers.

“We’ve done some charity events at Perth Zoo to raise money for Ronald McDonald House. For many events we will do charity collection where people donate to pose with their favourite Star Wars character. Sometimes an organisation will donate to a specific cause as ‘payment’ for having us there.

“My passion for Star Wars stems from great storytelling. The classic tale of the unlikely hero coming from nowhere and saving the word was turbocharged so that the hero saved the galaxy. 

“At comic cons like Supanova, we usually have a booth and a specific charity. Last year, it was Beyond Blue and we’ve supported Lifeline in the past. Over convention weekend, we usually raise several thousand dollars.

“Many of us make our own costumes though it’s possible for Stormtroopers to buy kits or for outfits to be purchased. Vader’s Fist and the Rebel Legion are under the Lucas Films umbrella. We have to abide by specific guidelines and there can be no financial gain. All costumes are paid for by the individual. No money we raise ever goes back to the groups—100 per cent of our donations goes to charity.

“Even though the COVID-19 emergency curtailed our fundraising activities, it gave us the opportunity to work on new outfits and finish costumes that have been on the backburner. When things are back to normal, we’ll be back, bigger and better. May the force be with you!”

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