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Buffy The Vampire Slayer

Buffy raising bucks for Make-A-Wish

Friday 22 August 2008, by Webmaster

Esterhammer-Fic, of Chicago’s Morgan Park community, spent months creating the diorama in 2007. He hopes his handicraft will help bring joy to some Illinois kids who are battling demons much worse than TV vampires.

He plans to raffle off the diorama Saturday at the sixth annual Slay-a-thon Make-A-Wish Foundation Benefit in Chicago.

"Lots of kids in Illinois are going through a tough time physically. We have friends who’ve lost kids to cancer," Esterhammer-Fic said. "It’s nice to be able to just help somebody."

The Slay-a-thon will take place from 11:30 a.m. to midnight in a showroom inside Dave & Buster’s restaurant on North Clark Street.

In addition to airing back-to-back episodes of "Buffy" and "Angel," the benefit will feature raffles and games.

"It’s a way for people to have fun and help a good cause at the same time," event coordinator Kelly Creamer said.

Fans have come from as far away as Georgia to attend the event, she said.

"There is a tremendous ’Buffy’ and ’Angel’ fan base in Chicago," Creamer said.

Esterhammer-Fic’s Magic Box diorama actually was first auctioned off at the event last year, but the winner, from out of town, gave it back so it could be used to raise even more money this year. Last year’s event raised $15,000, enough for theorganizers to grant three wishes.

In all, the Slay-a-thon has granted 11 wishes with the more than $55,000 it has raised over the past five years.

At his day job, Esterhammer-Fic rides Truck 11 for the Chicago Fire Department out of the station at 34th Street and Calumet Avenue. On his off days, he feeds his passion for set designing and prop making - something he says he’d pursue full time today if he could do it all over again.

In addition to enabling sick kids to dream, Esterhammer-Fic’s hobby has other benefits, among them impressing his 15-year-old daughter.

"My dad really rocked this out," said Madeline Esterhammer-Fic. "He’d come home with little statues and orbs. They’re all so cute and tiny but they look so realistic."

Madeline said she’s amazed by her father’s ability to work his own sense of humor into the project. There’s a miniature book titled "Witchcraft for Dummies" and there’s a Make-A-Wish sticker in the window.

The Mother McAuley High School sophomore is a huge fan of the TV series.

Her bedroom is proof. Among the souvenirs she’s amassed at Buffy conventions and as birthday gifts from family and friends are autographed posters, comic books and action figures.

In one corner of her room sits her father’s first stab at creating a Buffy diorama.

"I got to keep the prototype for the library," she said.

It now holds many of her action figures, including Buffy and Angel, who she’s posed in a slow-dance position.

"The stories (show creator) Joss Whedon tells are nothing like other shows," Madeline said.

She identifies with Buffy’s strong, wanting-to-do right personality - and her blond hair.

"I like the chemistry between the characters, too," she said.

Her two brothers, Max, 14 and Gus, 17, are fans of the show.

Their mom, Mary? Well, not so much.

"She tries to be," Madeline said.

Maybe having to sacrifice her dining room to the Magic Box project for months soured her a bit on the series.

"There were times I wanted to take Chris’ fire ax to it," Mary Esterhammer-Fic said. "But now I’m really, really proud of what he’s done."

Donna Vickroy can be reached at dvickroy@southtownstar.com or (708) 633-5982.

If you go ...

What: Sixth annual Slay-a-thon Make-A-Wish Foundation Benefit

When:11:30 a.m. to midnight Saturday

Where:Dave & Buster’s Gold Coast, 1030 N. Clark St., Chicago

Admission: Free

Etc.:To make a donation: visit http://slayathon.org