Every year, San Diego Comic-Con draws thousands of people together based on a mutual love of all things nerdy — be it superheroes, cartoons, or science fiction. Some of these attendees spend much of their year preparing their costume, but few have a story as heart-wrenching as Stormtrooper Kevin Doyle.


Two years ago, Kevin lost his wife Eileen to pancreatic cancer. The two met at a Star Wars themed party, and fell in love over a mutual passion for the classic films. Their wedding even featured a “Star Wars” theme — R2-D2 ring bearer and all.


Eileen’s death left Kevin devastated and lost; from this, he realized he needed to do something.


“You can’t just sit as I was and self-destruct. You have to be productive, you have to honor this person with whatever you’re doing,” he told reporters at the convention.


Kevin Doyle poses for a selfie in his Stormtrooper outfit

Kevin Doyle honors his late wife with his walking journey to San Diego Comic-Con (Tony Cagala/The Coast News)

Over the course of the last month, Kevin walked 645 miles from the Rancho Ob-Wan museum in Petaluma, California all the way to the San Diego Convention Center in a full “Star Wars” themed Stormtrooper outfit. Along the way, he stopped to take selfies, entertain fellow fans, and share his stories with others.


Now that the convention has concluded, Kevin has turned around and will walk the entire length back to northern California; he has also begun to collect donations with the hope of starting a charity in Eileen’s memory to benefit children stricken with cancer.


It may seem like a minor detail, but this type of story speaks to the power that modern pop culture has on our society. Something as trivial as “Star Wars” drew two people together in a beautiful way, defined much of their relationship, and even managed to play a pivotal part of Kevin’s grieving process. For millions of people around the world, these pieces of fiction mean something, and we cannot discount their empowering — therapeutic — effects.


What do you think of Kevin’s story? What do you think of the importance of modern pop culture? Comment below or tweet @connerws to tell us what you think!