Break out the tissues, readers, because this one will have you welling up — at least a little bit. Thursday marked the beginning of San Diego Comic-Con, but it also marked the end of a lengthy journey for one man. Kevin Doyle is a Minnesota native, an illustrator and photographer, and member of the nationally renowned Star Wars costume enthusiasts, The 501st Legion. Doyle has a passion for Star Wars that he shared with his late wife Eileen that drove them to join the 501st years ago. Star Wars was a strong connection between Kevin and Eileen, so much so that Kevin even dressed as Darth Vader in order to propose to her.
Sadly, Eileen passed on in November of 2012 after a battle with pancreatic cancer. Kevin lost his partner, and friend, as well as the creative spark for his work. “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.” After a little over two years, Kevin was still struggling to accept Eileen’s passing, but discovered a way to heal through the things they loved together.
“Eileen and I both shared a passion for Star Wars and are members of the world wide costuming organization the 501st Legion and as a member I regularly participate in charitable events, fund raising and various walks,” he explained. Kevin started a non-profit organization in his wife’s name, Eileen’s Little Angels, with the purpose of raising funds for sharing stories and artwork with children who are also battling cancer. To raise the funds, awareness, and heal, Kevin set out to walk from the Rancho Obi-Wan Star Wars Museum in Petaluma, CA to San Diego Comic-Con in full Stormtrooper armor. Kevin dubbed the journey “501 Miles” in honor of the 501st Legion, despite the fact that the trip was actually 645 miles. “Being out here, my mindset is an open book. I hope I find enough healing to be creative and work in that way again.” Doyle also set up a Crowd Rise page for his walk, as well as his non-profit, and documented the trip on his Twitterpage.
Doyle set out on June 6th, and made it to San Diego in time for the convention, despite traffic, thunderstorms, and some crazy heat waves. At age 57, some doubted Doyle’s ability to make the full trip, but his journey has been an inspiration to myself and many others. We all have those that we love, and must one day face the inevitability of losing them, but Kevin Doyle and his Imperial March has proven that death is not the end of life, and as long as we remember and honor the ones we love, they are never truly gone from us.