501st Legion member Kevin Doyle arrived yesterday at San Diego Comic Con, like many, after a long journey. Decked out in full Stormtrooper regalia, Kevin might have blended into the crowd - Stormtroopers are iconic characters which are often cosplayed at conventions across the world.
Kevin, however, stands out for one very important reason: he walked over 600 miles in his regalia to get to San Diego.
Kevin's 600+ mile ruck, which began June 6th in San Francisco, took him 33 days to complete. It sounds crazy... until you learn why Kevin made his march.
Kevin met his wife Eileen during a 501st Legion event - Kevin is a member of the Central Garrison. The 501st Legion is made up of numerous garrisons of Star Wars cosplayers that are known and respected worldwide for their charitable efforts.
Sharing a love for Star Wars, Kevin dressed as Darth Vader when he proposed to Eileen in 2009, and in 2010 they were married. The following year, Eileen was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and sadly, 13 months later, she lost her battle. "Eileen was the most amazing person I ever knew, she was so beautiful, so thoughtful and she was loved by everyone who knew her," Kevin writes.
Earlier this year, Kevin took a trip to Rancho Obi-Wan, a museum for all things Star Wars-related, created by Kevin's friend Steve Sansweet. During conversation they decided to attend San Diego Comic-Con, and searched Google for the distance between San Francisco and San Diego. The result? 501 miles. As a member of the 501st, Kevin took this as a sign, and decided then and there to make the ruck to SDCC on foot, in regalia, to honor his late wife.
Eileen was both an artist and an active participant in Comic Cons, so Kevin decided to create items based on Eileen's artwork and distribute them in person to children who are fighting their own cancers. Kevin devised a crowdfunding campaign to the raise funds needed, and his recently-completed march to SDCC served to raise awareness of his mission.
On his fundraising page, Kevin writes "It is in her spirit that I have created several items featuring her artwork which I will share with children battling cancer and it is for this reason I am walking the West Coast of California from San Francisco to San Diego come June 6th in my Stormtrooper armor to raise the funds needed to not only create these things but to also create a nonprofit foundation in her honor...Eileen's Little Angels."
You can follow Kevin's long journey here on his Twitter... and it's not over yet. After SDCC wraps at the end of this weekend, Kevin will be marching the 501 miles back up to Rancho Obi-Wan. In his regalia.
To donate to Eileen's Little Angels, click here.
To follow Kevin, click here.
To learn more about the 501st Legion and to find your local garrison, click here.
Many images from the walk are available here.