When Star Wars Bad Guys Do Good

In 2014, I met a guy named Magnum who was part of a global non-profit organization, the 501st Legion. When he first told me about this group I was like “No way. This can’t be real. A cosplaying group that does charity work? What?” And sure enough, it’s 100% legit and 100% awesome.

According to the 501st website, “The Legion is an all-volunteer organization formed for the express purpose of bringing together costume enthusiasts under a collective identity within which to operate. The Legion seeks to promote interest in Star Wars through the building and wearing of quality costumes, and to facilitate the use of these costumes for Star Wars related events as well as contributions to the local community through costumed charity and volunteer work”

I was invited to tag along for a hospital troop at John Hopkin’s All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg shortly after meeting Magnum. I didn’t know what to expect. I grew up in hospitals cause my dad is a doctor, but the patients I saw were older than 18. This was different. And I wish I had a helmet on cause it was really hard to hold back the tears.

It’s incredible that these guys spend their time and money building these amazing outfits to bring other people joy. Crazy part is that they’ve literally raised MILLIONS of dollars for charity around the world!

I’m grateful to be able to capture some of these events the Rebel Legion & 501st attend. I’ll never get tired of seeing the kids AND parents faces lighting up when they see their favorite character come to life. Disney and Lucasfilms should be proud of not only the Universe they have created, but the reality and beauty of what is happening daily through this organization.

If you are interested in learning more about the 501st or joining, please check out www.501st.com

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