This T-SQL Tuesday is an interesting one, as the challenge is to talk about something you’re passionate about outside of the usual work grind. Well, it turns out I’m very passionate about Star Wars, and I’m very passionate charity. Funny thing is, there is a way to combine them. But first, let’s rewind a few years to the beginning of the story.
Back in 2013 I went to a small game convention in my home town. I met an acquaintance I had not seen for about 10 years, and while it was great fun to reconnect with him, what was more fun was the fact that he was driving a full-size R2-D2 droid from Star Wars. My jaw dropped and I was instantly taken with the idea that I might one day have my own. I’ve always been a closet Star Wars fan, but this led to the slow emergence if a true fan. I started collecting information and pieces, and it turned out that one didn’t just buy a robot – oh no, you had tyou BUILD the thing. On your own. From scratch. The club (Astromech builder’s club) provide the specs and drawings, but you have to do the actual work fabricating and collecting pieces yourself. This means that the mean time from start to finish of such a project is between two and four years, depending on the choice of materials. While the droid was slowly taking shape, I started attending conventions with my newfound droid-builder friends, and here I came into contact with an organization to which I would devote a lot of my time the following years: the 501st Legion.
The 501st Legion was started in the USA back in 1997 and has since grown to over 12.000 members all over the globe. Every member has at least one screen-accurate costume from the Star Wars universe (we’re presently at ~17.000 costumes) – be it for instance a Storm Trooper, a TIE Pilot or a Sith Lord. The club is focused on the Imperial side of the costumes, with the sister organization the Rebel Legion handling the “rebel scum”. The club gathers people from all over the globe who all share a love for Star Wars, but also love the opportunity to do charity work.
Premiere of the Last Jedi in my home town. I’m the TIE Pilot in black.
We attend conventions all over the world to display our costumes and promote Star Wars, but we also visit children’s wards, collect money for various charities (such as Make-a-wish foundation), surprise children on birthdays or participate in reading days at libraries. Our “troops” as they are called can be as small as two troopers and go up in size from there. Our members often go out of their way to make a child happy, often driving for hours to troop for an hour or two (often wearing an uncomfortable costume). We are not paid as everything we collect go straight to charity and 90% of the costumes have been made/assembled by the wearer.
The subunits of the 501st are called garrisons, and in the Nordics the garrison goes by the name the Nordic Garrison. It consists of Sweden, Norway and Finland, as Denmark recently split off to form their own Danish Garrison. We are around 200 troopers and some 50 supporters, and as of last year I’m honored to serve as the Garrison Commanding Officer. It takes a lot of time and money, but the happiness and joy I see in the eyes of parents and children make it well worth it.
The droid, then? I’m coming up on four years and while I was sidetracked with the costuming and leadership of my Garrison, the work continues – albeit slowly. The droid drove for the first time on January 1st this year, and I hope to have him done enough to bring to conventions this summer. A droid is never really “done”, so it is fruitless to try to set a date when he should be finished.
The 501st is my third family after my wife and cats, and my #SQLFamily. We’re a great bunch of people, always eager to welcome new recruits into the fold. Come play with us!