Star Wars Celebration Pre VIII
My first experience of a Star Wars Celebration was in 2013 in the German City of Essen. I had just returned from a tour in Afghanistan and was in need of having some fun with some like minded friends. It turned out to be just what I needed. The entire Celebration blew me away, and from that point on I was hooked. At the end of Essen (Celebration Europe II) the organisers announced that the next Celebration would be at Anaheim. It wasn't long before I was planning my trip to California and enjoying my second taste of Star Wars sensory overload. This time though I was involved with the Force For Change booth and part of the Star Wars Forum UK Podcast who had been given a Podcast stage opportunity. It was awesome. On the first night of Anaheim I was introduced to the actor John Morton who played Dak Ralter in The Empire Strikes Back. John was hosting a Military/Trooping panel the following day and he asked me to join him. These Celebrations seemed to be full of surprises! The next Celebration was on home turf in July 2016, this time my podcast crew 'The Vintage Rebellion' had a dedicated fan table and I was also involved with another Military/Trooping panel, this time with Jack McKenzie from The Empire Strikes Back. We had an absolute blast.
Star Wars Celebration VIII
Not long after I started planning my 2017 Stormtrooper running project I contacted Pete Vilmur (Lucasfilm) and Mary Franklin (ReedPop) to float the idea of me being able to participate in some way at the 2017 Celebration in Orlando, maybe run around the queues or run on a treadmill. I didn't hold out much hope, but completed the application and waited. On February the 13th I was emailed by Pete congratulating me and informing me that I'd have a dedicated booth, to spread the word about 'Make A Star Wars Wish', 'Make A Wish' and crucially, have an opportunity to raise some money. My plan was to run up to a half marathon day everyday on a treadmill to promote Make A Wish, and Make A Star Wars Wish.
All I needed to do was complete a legal waiver and get hold of a Treadmill, simple.
I then spent the next 6 weeks emailing a dozen hotels, gyms, gym equipment suppliers and rental companies in the Orlando area asking them if I could borrow a treadmill for this charity project. I thought people would be falling over themselves to help out. How wrong I was. No one even replied! I asked the OCCC, who couldn't help out, nor could Make A Wish (Orlando) or Lucasfilm. I was beginning to worry. But then my fortune took a turn for the better. I asked a moderator on Rebel Scum Forum if I could put a 'Help Me' thread in their Celebration section. Forget the big companies and the corporations, it was the power of the people who came to my aid.
Brett Isaacs and his band of merry men, and a lady :) and the Orlando Police Department :)
In the final 2 weeks leading up to Celebration I had 2 possible leads!
The first was a guy called Brett Isaacs who had seen my plea on the Rebel Scum forum and worked some magic amongst the collecting and fan community. He managed to gather a band of merry men and a lady to borrow the lady's treadmill and get it driven over. This required people offering to sleep on trucks and travel pretty long distances at personal expense. Brett and his team were selfless and really dug deep. It was a lot of hassle for these people but they didn't complain.
The second lead was thanks to the 501st Legion. They put me in contact with the Orlando Police Department, who with 24 hours to spare agreed to loan one of their 'industrial ones' and deliver it before i even got off the plane. The problem was if this option failed it would then be too late to go for option 1. My decision was: Do i go for option 1 and rely on people sleeping in trucks and borrowing a home treadmill? This was a guaranteed option. Or do i go for option 2 and hope that the Orlando PD would deliver??
I opted for option 2 and boarded the plane. It was only when i landed in Orlando that i knew for certain that i had one. What a relief.
So there we have it, the Star Wars Community dug deep and has managed to find me 2 treadmills. I went with the option of the Orlando PD as it was a Gym one rather than a home one and the delivery option was less hassle for all concerned.
Now all I had to do was Four half marathons on the trot in armour/armour! What was I thinking??