Get your tissues out: in December 2013, Matthew Tillyer came down with severe case of pneumonia, paralyzing him from the neck down, confining him to a wheelchair. When he attended Star Wars Celebration this past spring, members of the 501st Legion took notice, and pitched in to help.

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When Tillyer and his family attended Star Wars Celebration, his parents turned his wheelchair into a TIE Fighter, which in turn won him first place in a costume contest and attracted the attention of members of the 501st Legion, a world-wide costuming group dedicated to replicating the bad guys of Star Wars.

Learning that Tillyer wanted to become a TIE Fighter pilot, members of the Legion began to assemble a costume for him: the internal crowd-sourced effort brought in a helmet, armor, flight suit, blaster and an additional $1500 to go towards medical expenses.

With the armor assembled, members of the Imperial Sands and Golden Gate Garrisons surprised Tillyer last weekend, assembling a group to present him with the armor and a certificate naming him an honorary member.

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Tillyer ’s day was made:

I have never been so surprised or delighted as I was today. It is my honor to wear this costume in the days and years to come, knowing how much time, hard work and love all of you put into making this for me.

Tillyer’s medical problems are ongoing, and his family has been keeping the general public informed through their Facebook page. In the meantime, the bad guys of Star Wars have helped brighten things for a while longer.

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[Huffington Post]

Disclaimer: I’m a member of the 501st Legion, but I was not involved in this project.

Photo credit: Stuart Loui

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