Saturday, January 31, 2015

Droids Need Hugs Too: R2-KT Valentine's Day Patch Raises Money for Make-A-Wish

When you see stormtroopers and other Star Wars characters at public events they are normally part of an organization of move fans called the 501st Legion whose members focus on creating authentic-looking costumes for cosplay, special appearances, and charitable work.  Since being formed by Albin Johnson in 1997 the group has expanded from a handful of people carefully recreating stormtrooper uniforms to having more than 6,500 active members with "garrisons" located throughout the world portraying Star Wars bad guys ranging from Tusken Raiders to TIE fighter pilots.  Locally, we have a very active group called the Great Lakes Garrison: 501st Legion - Michigan Chapter which is involved in events such as the Detroit Tigers Star Wars Night, Free Comic Book Day, Star Wars Reads Day, and the Great Lakes Comic-Con among numerous other appearances throughout the year.  Across the country you will also occasionally encounter a pink astromech droid named R2-KT making an appearance with members of the 501st Legion to meet with children in a hospital or promote the Make-A-Wish Foundation.


For a $7 donation with proceeds benefiting Make-A-Wish you can purchase a R2-KT Valentine's Day embroidered patch designed by Juan José Matamoros featuring the little pink droid showing some love to the 501st Legion members who always wear uniforms of the color that symbolizes this special day.  There will be a limited number of these patches made and delivery is scheduled to be by Valentine's Day (Feb 14) so if you are interested get your order in now!  $7 via paypal to  I know my daughter likes to have us sew patches like these on her backpack for school so this will be a special treat for her.

There is a special story behind R2-KT.  In 2005 a little girl named Katie was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. Katie loved Star Wars (like her father Ablin - the founder of the 501st Legion) and loved the color pink. When her health declined to the point she couldn't get out of bed, she said she wished she had a droid to watch over her like R2-D2 watched over a sleeping Padme in the Star Wars movie Attack of the Clones.  Word of Katie's illness spread throughout the Star Wars fan community and another club of fans that makes authentic recreations of droids from the Star Wars movies called The R2 Builders knew this was a job for them, and in mere months they constructed a custom R2 unit all painted in pink and dubbed her R2-KT. It rolled, it blinked, it even talked: Katie had a droid to watch over her! And she kept KT by her bedside through her final days.  Katie passed away peacefully in her sleep on August 9, 2005.

Katie's legacy lives on in her pink companion. R2-KT now tours the world, spreading the joy to Star Wars fans and a message of hope for kids who suffer childhood illnesses. R2-KT attends fan conventions, visits sick children in hospitals, appears in parades, inspires young girls that Star Wars has a place for them, and helps raise funds for a wide range of charities. In 2007 Hasbro produced an R2-KT action figure, which raised $100,000 for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. In 2008 Dave Filoni of Lucasfilm featured the droid in a cameo role in the Clone Wars animated feature film, making her a canon member of the Star Wars universe! In 2013 KT appeared in the Star Wars Weekends parade in Disney World, then traveled to be a guest of honor at Celebration Europe II in Germany. R2-KT has become a symbol of everything Star Wars fandom has come to represent: spreading the magic of hope. 

For more information about R2-KT visit


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