Meet Kevin Doyle, a 57 year old man dressed as a Stormtrooper at this weekends San Diego Comic-Con. Sure, this may not be all too unfamiliar a sight at such an event, but this man has walked all the way to San Diego in his costume. A walk of roughly 645 miles, in fact, from Steve Sansweet’s Rancho Obi-Wan museum in Petaluma, California, to honour his late wife Eileen Shige Doyle who sadly passed from cancer in 2012.
Kevin had met Eileen through the 501st Legion and had proposed to her in 2009 dressed as Darth Vader, with R2-D2 serving as ring bearer during their wedding in 2010. Their mutual love of the Wars served them well as they were both keen artists, and Eileen’s Star Wars drawings became crowd favourites as they toured around comic book shows with Eileen “appearing as a guest artist, her fans were of all ages and would surround her tables with smiles on their face and full of conversation.”
Eileen was diagnosed with metastatic adenocarcinoma in October 2011, and passed away just over a year later on November 7th 2012. Kevin would continue to attend the comic books shows, more “to honor Eileen and the art she created and to keep her presence at the shows”, and during a visit to Rancho Obi-Wan earlier this year he decided to visit San Diego Comic-Con, which unintentionally turned out to be 501 miles from the museum! He made the choice to walk it to honour his wife and raise awareness and donations for the non-profit charity he created called Eileen’s Little Angels, donating blankets, bandanas, coloring books and plush toys featuring his wife’s artwork to children battling cancer.
He has had nothing but positive experiences on his journey which began on June 6th. Everybody from joggers to motorcyclists and passers-by have offered him support and love on his way, his response to the crowds being extremely humble:
"“For me, I haven’t had my head around it just quite yet. 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,”"
He’d average a pace of 20 miles a day with his costume thankfully proving to be comfortable, and had little in the way of provisions in a dog-jogger he’d push along the way which contained a cot, a chair, some tarp to sleep under, extra clothes and a few other provisions, although many supporters have offered him places to stay and eat during the journey.
"“I get people that come up to me who are fighting cancer or are cancer survivors, people and their families and they just want to talk to me and thank me for raising awareness…It’s just been one amazing experience.”"
His journey ends at San Diego Comic-Con, where he has a full weekend pass donated by Steve Sansweet, CEO of Rancho Obi-Wan and long-term Star Wars historian. He can be spotted with the sign on his back reading “I race in memory of Eileen Shige Doyle”. No doubt the response from his Twitter page will ensure he’s met with open arms and a lot of love and support for his cause. The Force is definitely strong with this one; the Force of good-will, hope and love.
For more information on Kevin’s journey and to donate, you can visit his fundraising page https://www.crowdrise.com/501milewalk.
And if you happen to see him this weekend at Comic-Con, give him a big hug from me!