WakandaCon returns to Chicago, celebs step in to help 200 kids get free admission

CHICAGO (WLS) -- WakandaCon is coming back to Chicago this weekend with some special young guests.

The sci-fi, cosplay and afro-futurism convention inspired by "Black Panther" opens at the McCormick Place Hyatt on Friday, July 26.

"We wanted to create a space where we can have professions from all different disciplines - the arts, STEM, tech, politics - sharing what they are passionate about," WakandaCon co-founder Ali Barthwell said.

This year, 50 kids from the KLEO Community & Family Life Center in Washington Park will get free admission to WakandaCon.

"To see a black actor on the screen was like, 'Yo, this is the best thing!" said Malyk Singleton.

"I always wanted to know how they got all those people on the rocks," said Sundai Hynes. "That looks so real to me."

"I think the most powerful thing anyone has is an opportunity to tell their story in any way they want to, so I think exposing them to different ways to tell their stories is empowering them," said Lesle Honore, of KLEO Community & Family Life Center.

Some celebrities stepped up when there was trouble with a sponsor, so 200 kids in Chicago will get free admission to WakandaCon. The donors include Leslie Jones, Kenan Thompson, Michael Che and Chicago's Cecily Strong.

Strong started the chain of events by asking her friends to help.

"I was most humbled to have the chance to even get to try to help," she said. "I was blown away and flooded with emotions by the good energy WakandaCon and this story were bringing on."

"Maybe someone - might be a teenager, it might be an adult - who wants to explore something new can come in and see themselves represented and want to explore a new field and a new discipline," Barthwell said.

The young people getting free admission have already been invited, but anyone can get tickets online or at the door for WakandaCon.

For more information about WakandaCon, click here.
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