Before you feel the force when Star Wars: The Force Awakens hits theaters on December 18th, this exciting news will hit you right in the feels. The highly-anticipated film will include a pink version of R2-D2, known as R2-KT, in honor of a young fan who succumbed to a brain tumor 10 years ago.
In 2004, Albin Johnson was a devoted Star Wars fan and the founder of 501st Legion, a “charity work in cosplay” fan club. He shared his love for the franchise with his daughter Katie. The Johnson family’s world was abruptly turned upside down when Katie was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor in November. While seeking solace at church, Albin noticed a window shaped like an R2 droid. He took it as a sign to build his daughter a guardian angel and companion of her own. R2-KT would watch over Katie while she slept, much like R2-D2 did for Padme in Attack of the Clones.
R2-KT, which was named after Katie, is the brainchild of R2 Builders Group, another Star Wars fan club that specializes in building replica robots. Their founder, an engineer named Jerry Greene, was touched by Johnson’s sad story and began to mobilize a talented group of volunteers to assemble the droid. However, the team was under extreme time constraints because Katie’s health was rapidly declining. In the meantime, she was given a “temporary” R2 that belonged to Andy Schwartz, a member of R2 Builders Group. As suggested by Katie’s older sister Allie, the droid was painted pink and Katie was thrilled about her new companion.
In the meantime, the team continued creating R2-KT. Jerry Greene took the reins on the project and sent out a signal to the Star Wars fandom to help donate parts and money to make Albin’s dream come true. The entire process was detailed by Jerry on a special webpage and included photos of the parts they used and how the volunteer team worked together to build the droid in only one year.
Photos Source: Project R2-KT
About a month into the project, Katie passed away in her sleep on August 9th, 2005. She was 7 years young, but her story had made a huge impact around the world. The Star Wars community, including George Lucas, poured out words of encouragement and support to the Johnson family. In July 2006, R2-KT was completed and Albin made the droid his travel buddy as he visited charities and Star Wars events all over the USA. The bright pink droid has gained notoriety over the years and even had an action figure fashioned in its honor by Hasbro!
Now, R2-KT will represent the life and legacy that Katie left behind on the big screen. According to Albin Johnson, he was approached by Mary Franklin of Lucasfilm, who asked him to present the idea to the President of Lucasfilm. The idea was green-lighted and R2-KT will be the latest addition to Star Wars feature film canon. The Johnson family celebrated the news on their R2KT webpage by debuting a mission patch (see featured image) with Chewie, BB-8, and R2-KT:
“This weekend we were cleared to share the news that R2-KT will be making a cameo in Star Wars. Now it’s viral. To honor the occasion we asked Juan José Matamoros to design a fitting mission patch. We also asked that he include Chewie on the big screen, because Peter and Angie Mayhew are the most wonderful people in all of Star Wars and they were very close to Katie when she was with us. So the new star sits alongside her friend BB-8 and watches Chewie back in action! Each patch is a whopping 5 1/2″ wide and fully embroidered – just $8 apiece, free shipping to anywhere. Paypal to [email protected] – we’ll even drop in a R2-KT round sticker with each order. All proceeds go to the Give Kids the World Village, where Katie stayed on her Make-A-Wish trip.” –Source: R2KT.com
In a galaxy far, far beyond this current life, Katie is certainly thrilled by the incredible adventures of her companion.
Feature Photo Credit: R2KT.com