On June 6, Kevin Doyle set out to walk all the way from Petaluma, California to San Diego in full Stormtrooper armor, in tribute to his late wife Eileen. Today, that journey has hopefully reached its successful end.
"He can still hear the inflection of his late wife's voice when she would say to him, 'You're such a dork,'" begins the article on Doyle's trek in The Coast News. His wife, Eileen, was a "self-proclaimed geek" herself, and the two were big fans of Star Wars. Doyle told The Coast News that, when she died of pancreatic cancer late in 2012, "doing the walk down the West Coast in armor was really the only choice I had."
On the way, Doyle says he's met a fair share of people who are curious as to why a guy dressed as a stormtrooper would be walking 645 miles across California. But he's also been greeted by cancer survivors and their families, and those who have also lost loved ones to the disease.
"They just want to talk to me and thank me for raising awareness," he told Cost News. "For me, it's just me walking to honor my wife, but then people are gathering and making it really special. And they're making it personal for them, which I hadn't accounted for that — that people would receive me in that way." In addition to his walk, Doyle is also fundraising in Eileen's name, and has so far collected $4,065 to donate blankets, toys, and other items to children with cancer.
Doyle began his trek on June 6 at Rancho Obi-Wan, the unofficial Star Wars "museum" maintained by Stephen J. Sansweet, owner of the largest collection of Star Wars items in the world. Since then, he's maintained a pace of about 20 miles a day, though he's done as many as 45, walking with a jogging stroller outfitted with gear: a cot, a chair, a tarp and other necessities (see above in a photo taken by Tony Cagala). He planned to arrive in San Diego today for Comic-Con weekend, with a pass to the con provided by Sansweet, and a four-day hotel stay funded by the 501st Legion, a charitably minded organization of Star Wars cosplayers.
What's next after this weekend? Doyle isn't sure, telling The Coast News that he's "kind of left this as an open book for me." His trip back up the coast will involve significantly less foot travel, but it might culminate in walking across the Golden Gate Bridge with a full garrison of costumed 'troopers from the 501st.