Dear Henry, I’m Your Biggest Fan. Love, Aayla

In my three years as a 501st / Rebel Legion costumer, I’ve learned there are plenty of awesome things about cosplaying. I’ve trooped over 80 events for charity including a hospital where I was asked to hold up a young child for a photo. I’ve waltzed with little girls in my clone trooper and even though it wore me out, the smile on their face made it worth it. I even had one little girl who was so in love with my clone trooper, she asked an artist at the store that day to draw me for her so she could take me home.

Those are a just a few moments when the fans make cosplaying worth the teasing we get for walking around like human-sized action figures. For many people, these moments would see to be a once in a lifetime chance to make a difference in a child’s life. As a 501st Legion and Rebel Legion costumer….I call it another day at the office.

While going through the tedious 45 minute process to get painted up as Aayla Secura for this year’s Star Wars Weekends motorcade in Orlando, Florida, my mind was racing with thoughts of parade anxiety and the after-parade-headache my twi’lek headpiece usually causes. The march only lasts about 15 minutes, so the last thing I expected to walk away with was a memory of a little boy that would stay with me forever.

Aayla's little fan  Image: Peter Raber
Aayla’s little fan Image: Peter Raber

Once backstage at Walt Disney World’s Hollywood Studio, I waited anxiously for the parade to start and when the gates finally opened to the crowd, my adrenaline started rushing. After making my first turn onto Hollywood Boulevard, a little boy caught my eye. He had a crocheted Aayla Secura doll and he was happily waving it at me. Since breaking formation to hug him was against the rules, I gave him a big smile and Jedi-like wave.

After the parade, I told everyone about him and his adorable doll. I was so excited that among the thousands of people in attendance, this little boy was one of them.

A week or so later, his father went on the 501st Legion Facebook page looking for me, because his son wasn’t sure I had seen his doll and he wanted to send me a picture. This touched me, not only because this child wanted to find me, but also because his parents took his request to find me seriously.

They could have brushed him off and said they would never locate his Aayla Secura, but instead they reached out and, thanks to Facebook, he was able to find me.

His father and I talked online for a bit and I learned my little fan was 4-year-old Henry. Finally, a name to put with my happy memory that day! The picture he sent me was adorable with Henry holding his Aayla doll and action figure. His blonde hair and big smile melted my heart.

I was so touched by his photo and smiling face, I sent him a package out with a letter thanking him for his picture, and hoped to meet him next year at Star Wars Weekends. In return, I received the most amazing gift: Henry recorded a video message for me. His song touched my heart and reminded me that no matter how short our time with someone is, we can touch them in ways that are unimaginable.

For anyone wondering why we as cosplayers do what we do, it’s because of people like Henry that make spending $500 on a costume, $160.00 on body paint, and sitting through 45 minutes of airbrushing worth it.

Henry might be my little fan, but I’m his fan right back.

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Dakster Sullivan is a network administrator by day and a cosplayer by night. She loves discovering new books to read, tech to play with, and ways to express her herself. She has anxiety and depression and strives to educate others about these invisible illnesses.