With Comic-Con International happening in San Diego right now, anyone that’s ever been will tell you that people from all walks of life descend on the major event to enjoy many different flavors of geek culture with over 130,000 like-minded fans. This year, at least one fan in particular is there for a different reason: to honor the memory of the woman he loved.
According to the LA Times, a Minnesota man named Kevin Doyle began a journey to San Diego — on foot — dressed in the armor of a Stormtrooper from the original Star Wars trilogy. Beginning at a Star Wars museum called Rancho Obi-Wan in Petaluma, Doyle started the long, 645-mile walk to the San Diego Convention Center on June 6th, and is scheduled to arrive to the convention itself at some point today. Doyle, who works as an illustrator and photographer, said that his wife’s 2012 death from pancreatic cancer was devastating enough to cause him to lose much of his creative energy, and he hopes that this journey in her memory will reignite some of that creative passion. He also hopes that it will help him raise awareness and funds for a children’s cancer charity he started in his late wife’s name.
Speaking to the San Diego Union-Tribune, Doyle, 57, spoke about why he started this long walk, and talked about what he hopes to accomplish through it. He said,
In the time since she died, I’ve struggled with how to deal with the loss. I’ve been self-destructive and my art suffered. Being out here, my mindset is an open book. I hope I find enough healing to be creative and work in that way again.
So, why is he making this journey in the bulky armor of a Stormtrooper? It’s simple: they both loved Star Wars, and geek culture as a whole. She owned Stormtrooper armor as well, and worked as a comics artist that sold her work at conventions in the Midwest. They would both don the armor together, and when Doyle proposed to her in 2009, he did so in the armor of Darth Vader. Their wedding, held in their backyard, also featured an R2-D2 droid as the ringbearer. Sadly, she was diagnosed with cancer in 2011, and died just over a year later. Losing his wife was devastating to Doyle, as he stopped working, quit his job, and lost his home. It was earlier this year that he decided, as a walking enthusiast, to do something in her memory.
When he planned a California trip earlier this year, he decided to attend Comic-Con, and mapped out the distance between San Francisco and San Diego. When he saw that the distance on the highway was 501 miles, he took it as a sign, since he and his wife were members of the 501st Legion: an organization of Star Wars cosplayers that appears at conventions, hospitals, and many other places and raises money for worthy causes. Doyle has taken the longer, 645-mile coastal route and has walked between 15 and 20 miles every day, stopping at various campgrounds on the California coast.
This sounds like an incredible way to honor the memory of his late wife, and we wish Mr. Doyle nothing but the absolute best in his journey to honor her memory, and to find his creative inspiration once again.
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