Saturday, January 31, 2015

Operation: Sean's troopers

**UPDATE** This post has been updated to show that we are now selling the Patches and Coin/Sticker combo from our webstore. Order Now!

It's been a while since I've posted up here, so let me start out by saying, GREETINGS! I am TK-66613 of the Florida garrison Makaze Squad, First Imperial Stormtrooper Detachment. After my father was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in 2012 I made it my personal mission to do battle with cancer in all forms through my work with the 501st legion, an army of Star Wars fans who have dedicated themselves through good works and detailed costuming. Since that time I have raised thousands for cancer charities, attended countless fundraising events, made personal visits to sick and terminal children, and made a lot of amazing friends along they way!

I am writing today to tell the story of one of my favorite troops, a visit to the amazing Give Kids the World Village in Orlando, Florida, a 70-acre resort complete with over 144 Villa accommodations, entertainment attractions, whimsical venues, and fun specifically designed for children with special needs. We were called in for a special "Make a Wish" visit for Sean Corona, a young man who had used his love of all things Star Wars to help him through the trials of cancer treatment. Sean's family started a Facebook page for him called 'Sean's Troopers' to update family and friends about Sean's progress in treatment and allow people to show their support of Sean and his family.

Our visit with Sean was a special one, he was so excited to see all of us and knew each character by name. He led us around the village and  took us to see all of the other children. We brought Sean some cool Star Wars toys and had a really wonderful afternoon together. Sean made a very strange request of us nearing the end of the troop. When we had returned to our backstage area, Sean asked us if we would be willing to remove our helmets so he could see our faces. Normal 501st protocol is to never, EVER remove your helmet in the view of the public, but considering the nature of this "Make a Wish" event, we decided as a group that we would oblige him. Sean took the time to talk with each of us, about Star Wars, about the 501st, and to tell us how much he genuinely appreciated all of us being there that day. To say he made an impression on us is an understatement.

 After the visit our squad continued to follow his progress online and keep in touch with his family, sharing in his ups and downs and cheering him on along the way. Sadly this week it was brought to our attention that Sean's cancer has relapsed and progressed to stage 4, making him a high risk patient. Our troopers are rallying to his cause and have organised a fundraiser to help his parents with a second round of medical costs and are organizing a care package to send to Sean to keep his spirits up in this time of trouble.

Please help Sean take on this second battle with cancer by purchasing one of these "Sean's Troopers" patches, or a Coin/ decal combo pack. 100% of all proceeds will go to help Sean's Family. To pre-order these items, click the link here- order 



If you would like to make a direct donation to Sean's family without ordering a patch you can send it via Paypal to

I would also like to encourage any troopers reading this to stop by Sean's Facebook page and give him some words of encouragement. I know it will make his day better to know he has an Empire of support behind him.

Sean is a very special little boy to us, not because he loves Star Wars, but because his heart is so big. Sean is a real Trooper. He's one of us.

Please help us help him beat this.

Never tell me the odds

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Operation: Going Gold

If you have visited my page before, you might notice something looks a little different.

If you haven't visited my page before, then you should know that I am TK-66613 of the 501st Legion, Florida Garrison, Makaze Squad, First Imperial Storm Trooper Detachment. I started this blog when my father was diagnosed with multipul myeloma, and I undertook a crusade against cancer of all forms, as well as other diseases. In the time since that decision I have become a soldier in a different kind of war, one that is fought with fundraisers, hospital visits, laughs and smiles, lending a hand, and hope.

During one of the aforementioned hospital visits, which is a part of my service to the 501st legion, I was struck by the sheer number of cancer patients we saw. Then I started hearing the statistics.


-Every day, 42 children are diagnosed with cancer.
-12% of children diagnosed with cancer do not survive.
-Children's cancer affects all ethnic, gender and socio-economic groups.
-The average age of children diagnosed is six.
-More than 40,000 children undergo treatment for cancer each year.
-60% of children who survive cancer suffer late-effects, such as infertility, heart failure and secondary cancers.

From St. Baldrick's Foundation:

"In the U.S., more children die of childhood cancer than any other disease—more than AIDS, asthma, cystic fibrosis, congenital anomalies and diabetes combined., more children die of childhood cancer than any other disease—more than AIDS, asthma, cystic fibrosis, congenital anomalies and diabetes combined."

"All types of childhood cancer combined recieve less than 4% of U.S. federal funding for cancer research."

September is the month of the year dedicated to pediatric cancer awareness, which is usually signified by a yellow ribbon. So to show my solidarity to the kids and families affected by childhood cancer the Troop for the Cure page is going gold for the month of September. 

Pictured throughout this blog are the faces of children fighting this battle. These are kids who want nothing more than to lead normal, healthy lives. They are children that I have worked with on a one on one basis, raising funds to help with medical bills, sending care packages and encouraging letters, visiting in the hospital, or just giving a smile. These missions are close to me, and these children are close to my heart. When they hurt, I hurt. When they are sad, I am sad. 

But I am a soldier, and soldiers don't cry- they don't mope, they don't lose hope- not in front of the kids, not in front of the parents. Soldiers fight. And that is why, as much as these missions mean to me, as important as is is to smile, and laugh, and ease the burden, it is more important to strike back.

I have completed 2 consecutive years of Operation: Strike back which has raised a cumulative $7,000+ for the american cancer society with my Relay for Life team the Imperial Walkers. But the more I troop, and the more kids I meet, the more I know that this is not enough. These children deserve more than 4% of funding. They deserve better treatment than that which will cost them their quality of life. They deserve progressive, effective treatment for their illness and we are not giving it to them. 

This year I start a new tradition, of participating in the Cure Search walk for pediatric cancer. I am offering stickers for donations of $6 (including shipping worldwide) that bear the Troop for the Cure Helmet and a yellow ribbon. Normally the ribbon is red, symbolizing cancers of the blood, like my father's cancer-- but what started as a battle for my father has grown into an all out war.
Please help me in my fight against this terrible disease. I have 13 days from when this blog posts until my walk. Let's see how much we can raise in 13 days.

When these children soar, I soar. When these children win, we win.

In the war on suffering, we are the soldiers. The weapon is hope.
Never retreat.
Never Surrender.
Never tell me the odds.


Order Stickers here: Order Stickers

Friday, April 18, 2014

Operation: Show Support

For those who are new here, let me introduce myself- I am TK-66613 of the 501st Legion, Florida Garrison, Makaze Squad, First Imperial Stormtrooper Detachment. I started this blog a little over a year ago when my father was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a cancer of the blood cells, to document the mission I undertook upon his diagnosis to dedicate my life to the fight against cancer in all forms. In that year I have delved deep into the the 501st Legion, a worldwide Star Wars costuming group dedicated to charitable causes and good deeds. I have participated in many fundraisers, events, and good will missions including bi-monthly hospital visits and one-on-one Make A Wish events.


This year has started off as a busy one, in which I had the privileged of finally meeting my Little Warrior Ethan Paredes, a little boy who was diagnosed with Leukemia on his fifth birthday and who has been my internet pen pal for just about a year. Members of my squad and I organized a special meet and greet with Ethan and his family, and also sponsored a trip to Lego Land for them. I also had the pleasure of heading up a relay for life team called the Imperial Walkers, who raised just over $4.000 for the American Cancer Society.

But the war goes on- and my next mission is very demonstrative to the heartless nature of this terrible disease, an enemy who knows no limits and gives no quarter. Meet Olivia Valentin, a 6 month old girl who has been diagnosed with embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma. The costs of her treatment have already surpassed $11,000 and with months of treatment left to go it can only get more expensive from here.

The purpose of Operation: Show Support is to lend a hand to Olivia's family in what will no doubt be one of the most difficult times of their life. In order to do just that I have organized a patch run to benefit Olivia's family and help out with medical costs and simple living costs. Please join me in supporting this beautiful little girl in the fight of her life.

The yellow ribbon represents childhood cancer. The patch shows a Sandtrooper being provided air support from three soaring TIE fighters. The aurebesh script in the upper right reads "Operation Show Support". At this time patches are pre-order only, and will be shipped once the run is complete. The image above is a mock up, and the final product may vary slightly. 100% of all proceeds go to Olivia and her family.

You can purchase these patches from my webstore here.

Thank you for reading and for helping me in this mission.

In the war on suffering, we are the soldiers. The weapon is hope.
Never tell me the odds.


Monday, December 30, 2013

Operation: Force of Hope Part II

If you have been following the story so far, you know that back in August I began a crusade to save a young woman's life. Nadine Sfeir had been battling brain cancer and her could not afford the medical costs of her last resort, an experimental treatment only offered abroad and not covered by her health insurance. Nadine's battle ended on Thanksgiving this year. She passed at home in the arms of her family.

I knew when I took this mission on that it was a long shot. "Never tell me the odds" isn't just a cool thing Han Solo says- it's a promise I made that no matter how bleak things may look, or how impossible someones plight may seem, to support them, encourage them, and help them fight back. Everyone deserves a chance to fight, win or lose. Nadine needed our help, and we answered her call.

When Nadine died, it hurt. It hurt knowing I had failed. It hurt knowing that such a bright and promising person could be taken from us. But most of all, it hurt knowing that Nadine's family would spend this Christmas in mourning. Many times this holiday, my mind drifted from what I was doing to the thoughts of Nadine's family, and especially to her Fiance. I am engaged to be married this coming January, and the thought of losing my wife-to-be during the holidays was too horrible to imagine.

 I never met Nadine. All I know about her I learned through a few fundraising websites, her twitter account, and her obituary. I never heard her voice or saw her face, but there is one thing I have taken away from the words of her loved ones:

Nadine believed in helping people.

I saw it only fit to use the left over money from Nadine's fundraiser to help someone sharing her battle. That person was a little boy named Dom. Dom has spent the last 2 years of his life battling brain cancer, and has decided to take his experience and turn it around by helping other people in need and making other children's days brighter. Dom and his family organised a toy drive for the kids he meets at his monthly treatments and sponsored 14 families this past holiday with  gifts he collected. Dom is an amazing kid with a great family who understands something that I have always believed, that giving back is part of the healing process.

Many of my amazing friends and fellow members of the Makaze Squad put together a care package for Dom and his siblings, including toys, video games, and Subway gift cards (where Dom likes to eat after chemo). Along with this package Dom's family received a giant check from Darth Vader in the amount of $1,000 to help with Dom's treatment and projects. The members of the Black Ice Squad in the Wisconsin Garrison of the 501st made the day extra special by adding their own gifts and suiting up for a very special visit to Dom's family to deliver the package. I think these photos say it all. A huge thanks to all the troopers involved, especially Briana Petersen, and to Maci Lynn Bates who set me up with Dom through her amazing 'Little Warriors' program. It was a mad flurry of emails, shipping, and snowstorms, but in the end it turned out great.

In the end, I am still sad about losing Nadine's battle. I hope that in some way it may comfort her family to know that we fought for her, and that we paid tribute to her in a beautiful way.
 I will never forget her fight.
 But the war goes on.
 I may not win this war in my lifetime, but with kids like Dom are out there, I know someone will.

"Never Tell Me the Odds"

Check out Dom's page:

And Little Warriors:

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Operation: Force of Hope- Mission Complete

Four months ago I began a crusade to raise funds to help save a young woman's life.

On the evening of November 26th that mission ended, as Nadine Sfeir died in the embrace of her loved ones. She was home for the Holidays. My deepest condolences go out to her friends and family, for their great loss.

I didn't know, right away. I work in retail and the holidays are a busy time for me, and though some people close to me were aware of Nadine's passing it was kept from me, for fear that it would compromise my mental state on what was to be a twenty hour work day, and the busiest day of the year (Thanksgiving into black Friday). It was a well-meaning decision, that unfortunately made it impossible for me to attend the funeral the following Saturday to pay my respects to the girl who I never met, but fought hard to save.

It wasn't until earlier today that I happened across her fundraising page and discovered she had passed.

I knew, of course, when I started this that it was a long shot. That Nadine was in very dire straits, that the costs of her treatment were very very high, that the procedures were experimental. But to be human is to dream, and my dream was that through the kindness of many Nadine could be saved. That her family could rejoice in her recovery, that science and ingenuity would succeed in time to save her life.

I dared to hope that Nadine would live. Knowing what I know now, I would have done it all over again.
Because no one is in this fight alone.

I would like to take the time to thank Everyone who donated to the cause and purchased patches to help Nadine finish the fight. Altogether nearly $2,000 were raised in our fundraiser alone, $1,000 of which had already been posted to Nadine's fundraiser page (I learned of her passing bacause we were nearing the $2,000 mark and I was preparing to post the next $1,000 deposit). Nadine's total fundraiser raised over $55,000 which I have been told will be put toward outstanding medical bills and then the remainder donated to to the Musella Foundation for Brain Tumor Research in memory of Nadine.

Thank you to all the troopers and civilians who donated to help Nadine. I salute you.

Ashley Sandland
Whitney Hayes
Savoie Troy
Joel Ruprecht
Leighton Tomkins
Yutaka Tanaka
Takefumi Tenshima
Inao Yoshida
Valter Santos
Oliver Diez
Milt nation
Linda Crispien
Edwin Palmero
Dan Kohnke
Wade Gadsby
Gaby Navarro
Dennis Evander,
Maxim Fris
Hideki Shima
Andy Wolf
Gary Collins Sr.
James Cembrook
Kristy Anderson
Roberto Vilchis Portillo
Jeroen Joosten
Steven Garcia
Jason Neurath
Patric Bebie
Yutaka Tanaka
Paul Barnett
M. Ozeroglu
Bernhard Sihler
Tim Cubis
Eric Hartman
Stacey Kiefer
Michael Knowles
Diana Yareli Guerrero cruz
Ted Rivera
Julian Kong
Brenda Shields
Jake Baker
Toni Ali 
Steve Page
Charles Judd
Keven Marion
Adam Goetz
Stephan Petry
Christian Lorkowski
Göverim Osman
Harrison Faigen
Sam Parkin
Ross Moneypenny
Brian Ganninger
Sebastian Koch
John Ferarra
Colin Wells
Sean Mazurek

My Holiday will be a little darker this Christmas, knowing that Nadine's family will be mourning their immense loss. I will take the time at some point, to visit her grave and pay my respects to the girl that fought so hard and bravely.

If you know me, you know I already have a plan for the remaining $1,000. The fundraiser will continue, as previously stated, through the 21st of December, and the remaining funds will be diverted to an as yet unannounced project of a similar nature.

The battle is lost, but the war goes on.

Never tell me the odds.


Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Operation: Force of Hope

Never tell me the odds.

It's been the "Troop for the Cure" mantra since I started this blog, a little less than a year ago. It embodies a simple philosophical perspective that I have held throughout my life. People who know me understand that I am a realist, that I am logical at first nature and that I can assess a situation pretty quickly to determine the probable outcome. But people who are close to me understand that, despite and aside from that trait, I am also a romantic- that I believe in the power of hope and the human spirit, and that if I have faith in anything it is in the ability of people to overcome their circumstances through the power of sheer will, effort, and a little kindness.

Hope is the foundation of will. It nurtures our spirits. It dares us to dream and it spurs us on to make impossible things happen. What I fight for in this world is not victory over death, it is not the salvation of every man woman and child affected by illness or hardship- it's the war to give those people a fighting chance. The means to overcome relentless adversaries, insurmountable obstacles, and impossible odds. This is a war on suffering. We are the soldiers, and the weapon is hope.

Never tell me the odds.

A situation was brought to my attention through some mutual friends of a young woman who has fought impossible odds for the last three years. On the page her sister (a hero)  set up for her I learned a lot about her: Nadine Sfeir was diagnosed with an astrocytoma brain tumor in 2010, and has since undergone numerous forms of chemotherapy and two brain surgeries to no avail. Nadine, who had hoped to attend school to become an international human rights attorney, instead faces one final option for treatment to her life-threatening illness: an exploratory treatment called Novacure and a vaccine treatment only offered abroad. Due to the experimental nature of these procedures Nadine's insurance company has denied her appeal to cover the treatments and the family is left with a staggering $150,000 in medical expenses standing between them and their daughter's last chance.

Many factors have stood in Nadine's path to recovery, but it seems cruel that in the end her limiting factor should be financial. I've never met Nadine Sfeir. I've never heard her voice, or had a correspondence with her. But I believe she deserves the chance to fight for her life.

Now is a time for action.

Operation: Force of Hope is an ambitious effort. With some guidance and assistance from some legendary heroes from the 501st legion I have formulated a multi-front campaign to help Nadine in her battle. The key element to this battle is you, and I need your help.

In the 501st we celebrate and commemorate events with patches. These patches are worn as a badge of honor showing where troopers are from, their squad affiliations, events and charities they have supported, and more.

I have designed a Troop for the Cure patch, to be made available to anyone who would like to make a donation to Nadine's Cause (not just legion members). The Troop for the Cure design means many things to me. The Helmet and Cog are representative of my ties to The 501st legion, and the red ribbon is the symbol for blood born diseases (including multiple myeloma, my fathers cancer). These patches will be sold for $26, and all proceeds from the patch sales will go directly to Nadine to pay for the medical expenses of her treatments. The patches will be advanced ordered and then put into production once enough funds have been raised to cover the cost (Minus whatever I can scrape together to front costs myself).

From there I need your help- not only in the form of donation, but in the form of promotion. The "ambitious" part of this mission of course is the incredible amount of money that is required for the treatment-- if we sold 2,000 patches we would only raise $50,000 for Nadine's cause (1/3 of what she needs). What is encouraging is that Nadine's fund has already reached over $17,000 dollars in the short time her page has been up, and is steadily growing day by day. 

In this magical age of the internet I am confident that we can make Nadine's fight viral and we can sell 2,000 or more of these patches. By doing so, it is my hope that we can give Nadine the boost she needs to make her last stand against cancer. So share. Spread the word and the link and Nadine's story- with your family, friends, strangers- and make a difference.

This story is important to me for many reasons. Because I have a family member who is fighting cancer. Because I know what it's like to feel helpless. Because I have been Nadine's sister. Because every person deserves to fight. I have been witness to the miracle of the human spirit, to the giving nature of mankind, and the power of will. I have seen the power of the 501st Legion, I have seen the strength in my friends and family, and I have seen the impossible achieved.

In the war against suffering, we are the soldiers. The weapon is hope.

No surrender.
No retreat.
Never tell me the odds.

501st Legion
Florida Garrison
Makaze Squad
First Imperial Stormtrooper Detachment

 Order Patches from Troop For The Cure here:

501st members!! can see the legion order thread here:

Read Nadine's Story here:
Please Share her page!

Patches are currently IN STOCK and will ship weekly as orders arrive. At this time patches have raised over $1,000 to help Nadine. Please help us continue to spread the word!


By popular demand we are doing a run of Troop for the Cure t-shirts and bumper stickers that were available at Star Wars Weekends. You can visit the thread here to view and purchase them:

If you are not a Legion Member, you can order them at my webstore, 

At this time Shirts are PRE-ORDER only, and will be printed once enough have been ordered to print the run (between 50 and 100). Please be patient as these take time to print!

We also posted our first donation to Nadine's fundraiser this week, in the amount of $1,000! 

It is my sad duty to report that Nadine Sfeir  passed away this past thanksgiving. To read more about Nadine please see my updated post  The patches are still available to purchase and the funds that have not already been attributed to Nadine's cause are being deferred to a cause of a similar nature I hope to announce soon. Thanks to anyone who has donated or supported this mission.  

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Operation: O-bear Wan Kenobie

This blog entry is a message to my little warrior Ethan, for his sixth birthday on June 6th. I met Ethan through a program called Little Warriors, founded by Maci Bates.

 Maci is a survivor of childhood breast cancer, and has decided to take her experience and fight back in a positive way. She began Little Warriors as a Relay for Life team that grew into an internet based "pen pal" program in which children dealing with serious illness were paired up with people who would send them packages, cards, and gifts of encouragement. Once a month these children recieve a random act of kindness from a stranger they have never met. Maci founded this organization before she was even out of highschool, and is a shining example of how one person can touch the lives of many with kindness and compassion.

Ethan was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia on his 5th birthday. Ethan loves superheroes and his mom has run with this theme and created the "Ethan is my hero!" Facebook page, where friends, family, and even strangers can send him words of support during the complications of his treatment. Ethan was paired up with me in April and since then has received a package of goodies, as well as 2 transmissions from the galactic Empire.

For Ethan's birthday I wanted to give him something special, that had a little more meaning to it than a simple toy. I wanted him to know that his story was being told, that there were people out in the world that cared about him and his battle, and that those same people were fighting the battle with him. I enlisted the help of the 501st and Rebel Legion and we set up a special project for him. May I present to you:

The Story of O-Bear Wan Kenobie

A long time ago in a Galaxy far far away, there was an Ewok named O-bear Wan Kenobie. O-bear was not content in his life as an E-wok, and made the decision to become a Jedi knight. Through years of training and meditation he learned of a child across the galaxy named Ethan who was fighting a battle with leukemia for his life. Ethan was such a great warrior that he inspired O-bear to take a journey across the galaxy and tell as many people about Ethan's fight as possible.

O-bear took his new found passion before the Jedi council, where he was granted permission to pursue his mission. Jedi master Aayla Secura was especially touched by Ethan's story and arranged for O-bear to speak before the Galactic Senate on his behalf.

Escourted to the senate by Jedi Luminara Unduli, O-bear met Tarfful, the Wookie Chieftan of Kachriho. Tarfful sent Ethan a big wookie hug for O-bear to deliver to Ethan when they finally meet!

 Clone Troopers on planet Geonosis met O-bear and took time out of their battle plans to talk with him about Ethan. They were so impressed that they sent this picture to let him know that they wanted to be heroes just like Him!

Kashyyyk troopers performing recon on planet Dagobah were surprised to find O-bear chasing them through the woods for a picture! They too were moved by Ethan's heroics and wanted to show their support!

O-bear spent a lot of time on planet Tattoine-- here he is with a Jawa and a Tusken Raider! He didn't really know what they were saying, but it must have been something about how awesome Ethan is!

Outside of Jabba's Palace, O-bear met a Bounty Hunter named Boushh- at least, he thinks that's who it was!

At the Mos Eisley Cantina O-bear ran into another bounty hunter, Dengar. Dengar said the cantina was no place for O-bear, and he had to go!

Back on the streets of Mos Eisley, O-bear ran into another Jedi like himself! But this Jedi wasn't the one he was looking for, so he decided to move along.

Later on, O-bear met some pilots who convinced him to join the Rebel Alliance! He journeyed with them to Yavin 4, and got to ride in one of their cool starships!

On Yavin 4, O-bear met the three-eyed alien Re-Yees, who was very nice despite being kind of scary looking! Re-Yees liked O-bear's story about Ethan so much that he introduced him to Mon Mothma, one of the founders of the Alliance, where she praised his mission and Ethan's Bravery!

On the ice planet Hoth, O-bear Wan overslept and missed the evacuation! He was captured by Imperial Snow Troopers, but when he told them the story of Ethan's battle, they decided to help him on his mission (even though he was a good guy!)

They sent O-bear back to his home on the forest moon of Endor, where Imperial Biker Scouts and Ewoks had long been enemies. But the scouts were so impressed with O-bears young friend Ethan that they decided to help smuggle him aboard a Star Destroyer headed for Ethan's home planet of Earth!

On board the Star Destroyer, troops sent out a message to help O-bear find someone who knew this brave young Ethan. They Received a transmission from Storm Troopers on Earth who said they knew Ethan, and O-bear Caught a ride with this Tie-Fighter Pilot!

O-bear's Star Destroyer stopped in Orlando, Florida, where O-bear met TK-66613, Ethan's friend in the 501st legion. TK-66613 promised he would make sure O-bear made it in time to Meet Ethan Before his sixth birthday. So check your mail box Ethan, Because O-bear is on his way!

O-bear Wan Kenobie would like to thank all of the friends he made on his journey to meet Ethan, and hopes that those friends will continue to tell Ethan's story across the Galaxy!

Happy Birthday Ethan, and may the Force be with you!

I accidentally forgot to put in one more picture of the clone troopers on Geonosis and their awesome troop transport! This has been added. Commander Colt was kind enough to remind me!

Also, if you would like to follow Ethan's battle or learn more about sponsoring your own little warrior, you can visit the following links:


Mission Accomplished!