Katie's story in December 2 Bantha Tracks online

Discussion in 'Philadelphia, PA' started by F16WarBird, Dec 6, 2004.

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  1. F16WarBird Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Aug 5, 2004
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    Taking Care of Their Own - The 501st Legion Pulls Together For Katie
    December 02, 2004

    In 1999 Albin Johnson of South Carolina formed the 501st Legion, a Star Wars Imperial costuming group that would grow to be the foremost Star Wars fan organization in the world. His priorities, and the priorities of the other founders, are summarized in the group's charter: "...to celebrate the Star Wars movies through the wearing of costumes, to promote the quality and improvement of costumes and props, and most importantly to contribute to the local community through charity and volunteer work."
    Over the years, the "most important" charity efforts of the members of the 501st have been beyond impressive, sometimes featured on websites and television, and in newspapers and Bantha Tracks. Much of the hard work has gone unreported, but is no less appreciated by the lucky recipients of the group's contributions.


    [image=http://www.heartofanempire.com/Katie/images/Katie.jpg]
    Katie Johnson


    Helping kids has been a particular focus for Legion members, with costumed stormtroopers, Darth Vaders, and bounty hunters bringing the joy of Star Wars to children's hospitals all over the world. Sadly, Johnson's six-year-old daughter Katie was recently diagnosed with a brain tumor, and the founder who worked tirelessly to bring Star Wars smiles to kids is now tending a seriously ill child of his own.

    Members of the 501st have rallied around their leader, organizing fundraisers and other "get well" wishes for Katie and her family. Their continued efforts have made a difference.

    "Amidst all the despair and hopelessness it is so wonderful to hear the well wishes of friends," says Johnson. "Katie is the dearest little child and deserves so much better. We are fighting daily to find a solution."

    Here's a sampling of what fans everywhere have been doing to help out, plus contact info that you can use to help you pitch in:

    Rain Montes, 501st Legion member, is collecting monetary donations to help the family with mounting medical costs. Contact rainmontes@hotmail.com.


    [image=http://photos.imageevent.com/tk210/family/katie/websize/IMG_5240.JPG]
    Katie opens a box of goodies from well-wishers at Wiz Kids games.


    Members of the Empire City Garrison and Garrison Carida (Pennsylvania) trooped at the National Convention in New York City and raised over $1000.00 from both Star Wars fans and New York passersby.

    "We asked for donations for Katie's cause on the corner of 34th Street and 7th Avenue," says Christian Bontigao, the XO of the Empire City Garrison (ECG). "We also made a video of footage we took, recording New Yorkers wishing her well." Jay Thompson of the ECG will edit the video, add music, and make a DVD for Katie.

    "In the Empire City there was some sort of magic that weekend, and our efforts exceeded my expectations," recounts Bontigao. "Strangers and fans of Star Wars were not only donating for Katie's cause but were concerned for Katie, asking how she was, and rooting for the best."

    The ECG also recorded Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca), David Prowse (Darth Vader), Daniel Logan (young Boba Fett), and Jake Lloyd (young Anakin Skywalker) at the National Convention, sending their greetings and best wishes to Katie.

    "It was weird," says Bontigao, "because we look up to these stars and now they were in the video looking up to Katie and telling her to fight the fight." For more on the Empire City Garrison and Garrison Carida go to http://www.empirecitygarrison.com and http://www.garrisoncarida.com.

    The New England Garrison of the 501st has been gathering PayPal donations from their membership. Troopers in the group also attended Boston's Super Megafest convention in November, where they not only collected donations from convention-goers but also collected signatures on a card for Katie from Anthony Daniels (C-3PO), Kenny Baker (R2-D2), and Erica Durance, who plays Lois Lane on television's "Smallville," a favorite show of Katie's.

    "Thanks to all who were there and who donated online," says Bob Gouveia of
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