501st Legion: 'Bad guys' doing good things

Story and photos by
Callie Sterling

The 501st Legion of Stormtroopers in Arkansas provides the community with philanthropic events while they have fun at the same time.

Since it was founded eight years ago, the Arkansas legion has reached 40 members in their adult group. The worldwide legion was formed in 1996 and has 7,000 members worldwide.

“Our legion is like a family,” member Tracy Wilson said. “I grew up watching Star Wars and getting to dress up in the costume is awesome! The best reason about being a member is the charity aspect though.”

Many members enjoy the philanthropic aspect of the group and are proud to bring smiles to others.

“We participate in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, Walk for the Cure, many Autism Awareness walks and Travs baseball games,” second year Squad Leader Paul Robinson said. “A lot of organizations call us when they want to add a special element to their event. Sometimes we just dress up for fun and three or four of us will walk downtown just to make others smile.”

Each member can be as involved as much or as little as they choose. Everything is done on a voluntary basis.

“We have events almost every weekend,” Wilson said. “Sometimes we even have three events in one day.”

Currently the 501st Legion is under an umbrella of the star garrison group, which consists of four squads located in Texas, one squad in Oklahoma and one in Arkansas. Squad leaders are elected once a year and voted on by members.  

The 501st Legion will soon become their own garrison, due to their rate of expansion.

“We are located on seven continents and in 47 countries,” Robinson said.

The group consists of male and female members who are at least 18 years of age.

“To join you just have to have an approved movie quality costume,” Robinson said. “The cost of the costumes varies from $60 to upwards of $4,000. Our group consists of only the bad guys from the Star Wars movies and books. We are bad guys who do good in the community.”

The members are from all walks of life and find a common bond through the 501st Legion.

“I am active duty military and there is a certain comradery in this group that even rivals the camaraderie of the military,” newest member Eva Anderson said. “We help people raise awareness for things, while making kids smile. It is totally worth it. I absolutely love being a member!”

There is a kid’s organization similar to the adult legion called the Galactic Academy. The age group can vary from birth until adulthood.

“The Galactic Academy is pretty awesome,” 12 year-old Laurel Wilson said.

The 501st truly provides fun for all ages. To become a member, contact Robinson at [email protected] or visit 501st.com.

“When you put on the costume you feel like a rock star,” Wilson said.