Minnesota resident Kevin Doyle just passed through Leucadia on Tuesday en route to Comic-Con International in San Diego. Decked out in full Stormtrooper gear, Doyle has been walking for over a month, and has covered 645 miles of the California coast, on foot.
There’s a lot of lengths people will go in their quest for Comic-Con, but most take cars. Even public transport would be less of a trial.
But Doyle’s trek isn’t just out of love of all things nerdy and wonderful—his is a labor of love for his late wife, Eileen, a huge fan of Star Wars. In fact, the two beloveds had first met through their shared love of the film and franchise. Doyle proposed to her in 2009 dressed as Darth Vader, and since then, the two often dressed up in matching Stormtrooper armor.
Eileen died in 2012 after a battle with pancreatic cancer, leaving Doyle both devastated and stripped of all his creative energies. He hopes that this self-assigned walkabout will clear his mind and inspire him to return to his work as a photographer and illustrator.
“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. 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 hopes to raise money for a children’s cancer charity he founded in his wife’s name.
It all began when Doyle planned a trip to Rancho Obi-Wan, a Star Wars museum in Petaluma. He soon decided, since he was already in California, to attend the San Diego Comic-Con. When he Google-mapped the distance between where he was and where he was planning to go, the result said “501 miles.”
He and Eileen were both members of the 501st Legion, a worldwide Star Wars costume guild.
“When you lose somebody, you look for things like that. To me it was like she was telling me that this was something I needed to do.”
Doyle set off on June 6th from Petaluma. He endured heat waves, pouring rain, intense tragic and narrow cliff trails, never taking off his Stormtrooper costume.
— AJ+ (@ajplus) July 9, 2015
As news of Doyle’s journey has spread, people have gathered to show their support. Some have stopped to offer food and water, make donations, take photos. Most touching of all, some have walked beside him, and shared their own struggles with cancer.