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This article was published in October 2014. The information may be out of date. Please check our epilepsy information or our site A-Z.

Beckii Cruel and a convention of cool

7 Oct 2014

Rebecca Moriarty helps organise conventions that celebrate Japanese anime and gaming. She describes her epilepsy and proves that you can raise money for charity doing just about anything – including Japanese-style costume play and rubbing shoulders with international YouTube sensation Beckii Cruel

I had my first tonic-clonic seizure at the age of 11. I was later diagnosed with both absence and tonic-clonic seizures. As with many people, the cause of my seizures is still unknown.

I am 24 now, so that is such a long time ago! I don’t remember much of how I initially felt. I just knew I had to keep it together and try to be strong – despite feeling upset and uncertain inside.

For the first time I have actually achieved a year seizure-free. I’m in the process of applying for a provisional driving licence – fingers crossed!

Before that, my seizures – particularly my absences – were very bad. That was especially true during my school years. I would often have 20 or more absence seizures a day.

Cosplayers at Alcon

My friends knew about my condition. Other people merely thought I was a bit of a daydreamer and had my head in the clouds!

It did impact on my learning. I rarely participated in class discussions, since I was worried that if I put my hand up I might have a seizure. I was regularly off school due to hospital appointments.

My education has always been important to me. I made sure to keep my grades consistently good. I just had to work harder for it!

My tonic-clonic seizures were less frequent. I have had them both at work and in public. The first time I had one at work was when I was doing my first student internship. It was probably one of the most frustrating things ever.

I had a seizure during a large presentation ceremony in front of the whole company. You can imagine what everyone was talking about on Monday morning!

An unusual event

Cosplayers at AlconSince 2011, I have been volunteering as crew for AnimeLeague. They run two events for anime, gaming and Japanese culture fans – called Alcon (in Leicester) and London Anime Gaming Con.

Anime is a style of Japanese film and television animation, typically aimed at adults as much as children. At these conventions, fans can get together – often in costume as our favourite anime characters. This is known as cosplay, which is very popular in Japan.

Conventions have special guests, such as the voice actors who appear in anime. There are also lots of presentations, stalls and events all based around Japanese anime.

I started off just helping backstage. By working hard and showing my passion for the genre and these events, I worked my way up. I am now head of press and guests for the conventions.

I absolutely love crewing the events. For me, the best thing seen at the convention is always the cosplays! People put so much effort into their creations. There is always a huge variety of characters, ranging from popular Marvel or DC comic characters to Japanese anime characters.

One of my favourite things is photographing the cosplayers on display. I run a cosplay photo and news blog called the League of Extraordinary Cosplayers. I love interacting with all the new people I meet. It’s great to feature them on the website and social media pages. I also love meeting the anime voice actors, who I usually handle.

The ‘fun’ in fundraising

Trina Nishimura (left) with Rebecca MoriartyThis year, attendees could nominate and then vote for which charities they wanted Alcon to donate to. I nominated Epilepsy Action, since the charity is very close to my heart.

There are over 600,000 people living with epilepsy in the UK. It affects so many people – plus all their families and friends. At times, I can’t believe how little media coverage the condition gets. I feel epilepsy should get more public awareness, funding and support.

I would love for people to be more educated about epilepsy. Most people still don’t know that it’s not just flashing lights that trigger seizures! I’d also love it if more people were aware of the good work that Epilepsy Action does.

I encouraged lots of people to vote for Epilepsy Action in an online poll on the AnimeLeague website. The organisation came in a strong second place – so it was selected to receive 25 per cent of the funds raised. In the end, that came to £929.

To raise this money, one fundraiser held a cosplay auction. For those unfamiliar, a cosplay auction is when members of the audience place bids on cosplayers live on stage. This is to show their appreciation of that character or costume. It is generally accepted that the higher the bidding gets, the better the costume!

Professional or high-profile cosplayers will often offer the winning bidder a consultation to help them improve their own cosplay. It’s very fun – although it can get quite competitive based on who can raise the most money for charity.

Beckii CruelAn international guest

Our other big fundraiser was a charity gala. This involved a grand auction of memorabilia and rare collectibles. These included autographs and signed merchandise courtesy of our guests and exhibitors, such as the retailer Forbidden Planet.

This year, our guest of honour at the event was American voice actress Trina Nishimura. Trina stars in the popular anime ‘Attack on Titan’ – and donated several items that were up for auction.

The gala also included several special performances. While the artists were performing, audience members donated money to show their appreciation for such a good show!

Notable acts included Beckii Cruel. Beckii has appeared in numerous newspapers and news features for her dance performances. She has a huge international YouTube following, particularly in Japan. In 2010, Beckii starred in her own BBC documentary: ‘Beckii: Schoolgirl Superstar at 14’.

I really enjoy meeting international guests like Beckii. Without events like these, I would not have the opportunity to do so. The conventions are also a great place to socialise and meet new people. I have made some good friends from it!

Make it your own

I think you can do anything to fundraise – nothing is too unusual. You can take a typical fundraising idea – a cake sale or sporting event – and then adapt it to your target audience.

Frozen's Anna and Elsa selling baked treatsFor instance, two of The 3 Baker Tiers sold a hamper of treats at the convention and raised over £100. The difference was, they did it while cosplaying as Elsa and Anna from Disney’s Frozen!

Remember to make your fundraising activity fun and or interesting. AnimeLeague took a typical auction idea and made it geeky. They simply made sure that the auction included items our convention attendees would want to buy.

Performances from our talented guests helped to liven up the atmosphere. This created a really positive vibe – which made people want to donate. Our cosplay auction may be an unusual fundraising idea. Many readers might never have heard of cosplay before – but it worked for our audience!

In the past, instead of running marathons we have also organised gaming marathons to raise money for charity. A gaming marathon is when you play a console game non-stop for a certain amount of time.

In general, get as many people involved as possible in spreading the word and attending the event. That helps as well – especially with social media tools such as Facebook and Twitter!

For more information about how Epilepsy Action can help you with your very own fundraising event, call the fundraising team on 0113 210 8800 (UK only) or email events@epilepsy.org.uk  Alternatively find out more about holding your own fundraising event.

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