A Minnesota man dressed as a stormtrooper makes over 600 mile journey to Comic Con San Diego in tribute of his late wife

By Rose Minutaglio
Updated July 09, 2015 05:00 PM

The man in a Star Wars costume spotted trekking along the California coastline has taken some by surprise, but the story behind this stormtrooper will melt your heart.

Kevin Doyle, 57, lost his wife Eileen, an avid fan of the sci-fi series, to cancer in November 2012, and has spent the last month walking over 600 miles to Comic Con International in San Diego to pay tribute – and he’s done it dressed entirely in Star Wars garb.

The Minnesota native started his journey on June 6 at Rancho Obi-Wan, a Star Wars museum in Petaluma, California. The journey is scheduled to end Thursday at the San Diego Convention Center.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Doyle first bonded with his late wife over a shared affinity for all things Star Wars, especially its international fan-based costume guild, 501st Legion.

In October 2009, Doyle proposed to Eileen dressed as notorious villain Darth Vader. At their backyard wedding in 2010, an R2D2 robot served as the ring bearer. But in October 2011, the comic book artist was diagnosed with cancer and died a little over a year later.

“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,” he told The San Diego Union-Tribune. “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 has walked between 20 and 45 miles each day on his journey to Comic Con San Diego. Although he never takes off his stormtrooper armor, he puts on his helmet only for photographs, as the headpiece makes it difficult to see.

His bittersweet story has been spreading through social media, prompting strangers to seek him out, delivering water and sharing their own personal cancer experiences.

“Sometimes they just want to stop and give me a hug,” Doyle told FOX 5 San Diego. “I haven t wrapped my head around it at this point. I m walking to honor my wife, but I had no idea that people would make it their own personal journey.”