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‘Vader’s Fist’ takes swing at fundraising for Make-A-Wish

After 19 years, the premier Star Wars costuming group known as the 501st Legion is no stranger to raising money for worthy causes. Known as the ‘Bad Guys Doing Good,’ the group has made charitable activities a cornerstone of their mission. In the last few years, the 501st Legion’s charitable efforts have grown exponentially. From a trooper spending 400 days walking around Australia, to a Garrison raising over $20k in a single weekend at a convention, the 501st Legion is excited and honored to be able to use the wonder of Star Wars to bring smiles to fans while supporting our favorite charities.

“As Commanding Officer of the Georgia Garrison and Legion Charity Officer, I’ve been able to see the tremendous growth of this group, with the vast majority of our new troopers invested in its charitable aspects,” said Bobby Shively. “We show up in droves to support Star Wars events, where we generate tens of thousands of dollars in donations.  We get requests to entertain and raise money at charity fundraisers. We have a great number of folks that design and execute these fundraisers for organizations they have a personal connection with.”

Recently, the group kicked things up a notch and in partnership with Make-A-Wish America and Make-A-Wish International committed to raising $150,000 to form the first Make-A-Wish Endowment spanning the entire globe. The 501st Legion Make-A-Wish Endowment will focus on providing wishes of a Star Wars-themed nature for children suffering from life-threatening medical issues. Once fully-funded, it will alternate granting wishes each year between the United States and the international community.

The 501st Legion Make-A-Wish Endowment has been met with an amazing — but not surprising — response from the membership. The Legion has long supported Make-A-Wish all over the globe. Closing out on the goal of $150,000 is just the first step into a much larger world…

“Giving back to the community has always been a part of the 501st Legion,” said Karl Gehring, Charity Officer for the Star Garrison and the 501st Legion member who originally started the drive to create the endowment. “After learning about the endowment process for Make-A-Wish, it just struck me as something that we should try to incorporate as soon as possible.

To begin the campaign, members of the Legion came forth with different ideas for initial fundraising activities. 501st member Brett Schoenwald came up with a plan to blaze another new trail and pave the way for 501st Legion branded items to be offered to the public for the first time.

“I wanted there to be a way to bridge the gap between members and the supporting public,” said Brett Schoenwald, the organizer of the shirt campaign. “When we’re at events, it’s always heartwarming to see a child run up to you with a picture of the same character you are dressed as. Now they’ll be able to have the same shirt that you do! It seemed like the perfect way to kick-start our commitment to Make-A-Wish.”

The success of the shirt sale has been tremendous. Within the first week of the campaign, the shirt sale raised over $40,000 for the endowment. The shirt campaign will run until October 31, 2016.

Buy yours today and help contribute to the endowment.

     Written by: Karl Gehring, Garrison Charity Liaison, 501st Legion, Star Garrison