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“Dream Day is a chance for terminally ill children to escape the medical setting of their everyday life and be the center of attention in a way that let’s them just be kids, not sick kids. For some, this was the last time they would leave a hospital” – Kyle Scott

“Come with me and you’ll be, In a world of Pure imagination

Take a look And you’ll see Into your imagination”

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Hold your breath Make a wish Count to three…

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Imagine if you will 30 kids delivered into a dreams or fantasy that have chosen . That was my day today, trooping the PRI Productions event called Dream Day. As the quote above states these kids have terminal conditions. So today was all about them. So let me set the stage as it were. What each child saw as they were delivered to a dream like place.

Each child and their parents would show up at the parking garage. Each child was place in their dream car. Some picked limos and some hot rods, monster trucks and even cop cars. As each child pulled up to the entrances they could hear about 50 people clapping and cheering. As they exited the car a big bill board across the street displayed their name with dazzling effects. An escort led them to a red carpet where Willy Wonka greeted them and started sing the above song “Pure Imagination” from the original Willy Wonk movie and took the child by hand and walk down the long rows of people and character dressed for the event. We had fairies, princesses and the good witch from the wizard of oz, south paw mascot with spider man and of course Storm troopers and a biker scout along with  three  R2 droids.

As Willy walked the carpet the child’s eye were wide with surprise and overwhelming happiness. The person who played Willy Wonka was amazing with these kids. Quickly he determined the best way to integrate the child’s ability to participate in the wonderful walk to the building. Some of the children walked down holding hands with Willy, others were small enough he picked them up and carried them so they could take in all that they were seeing. Some were pushed in a wheel chair and he would help the excited child by slowing them down and so they could take in everything they were seeing. Then as they got to the door Willy explained that beyond those doors was their special dreams and they could enter and enjoy their very special day.

It was amazing to watch each child come through the gate and be greeted and see the overwhelming looks on their faces. I was stationed close to the front and had a great view of the children as they were delivered and escorted to the dream building. As they exited from their dream ride the crowed would start clapping and cheering as they passed us by. As amazing as this event was in terms of creating this fantastic illusion and fantasy I was not ready for the emotions that would hit you when you saw the reality of the condition of some of the kids.

Its was heart breaking, it was overwhelming and you could see it in the faces of their parents as they were stressing to get their child ready for this event. But the moment Willy Wonka took the child from the parent’s, their faces changed from stressed to excitement and celebration. at this moment all the pain, stress and sadness faded away for just a moment. Some smiled, clapped and cheered and other mostly mothers cried, tears of joy. Tears that said thank you for this, all of this. My child is happy and smiling on this day.

The tears were not one sided. My station put me next to Jaguars cheerleaders and overlaid on their smiles were tears, tears that showed they cared and as for me. Well not that anybody could see because of my helmet. There were a few tears that were shed as I watched each of the 30 children past me by. They were so brave, so motivated and you would not think that what they were going through was that tough. But we knew it was, it was very real and they would have to return to that life after they left this wonderful special day. So it was all of our mission to create and cement the dream in their minds to take with them as they faced their greatest challenge. After every child was inside the building the dreams started to take place.

As I understood it each child had a fantasy or dream. So inside there was an area for each of them. A place where they would get gifts just for them and a costumes that they picked. There were rooms all around that were amazing. There was a tea party room. The children could sit and have a tea party with a princesses. They could get ice cream with many fantastic flavors. There were a whole host of places in there that catered to their wishes. Truly, truly their dreams did come true, if only for a day.

The photo below are a small gallery of the day. There will be some amazing photos and video that were taken by PRI Productions. I will link to them as the become available so check back from time to time to see this special even in video.

Photographer: Rob Semos

Here is a slide show of the Kids getting there gold ticket to attend the event: Click Here

 

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PRI Productions website: http://www.priproductions.com/

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GothamCityLimits

 

Standing in the rain, waiting for the doors to open at 10:00 am the line, it was long. what were they waiting on “Free Comic Book Day” I was excited to troop at the Gotham City Limits Comic Book Store on South side Blvd on Saturday the 3rd.

I was surprised a bit by this event. I must admit I have never been a comic book reader so as such I didn’t visit many comic book stores. So I was surprised to see how many people still  have a love for them as I had thought they were all but a historic foot note among the digital age. but I was wrong, every age group were ready to storm the store to  plunder through the plethora of comics that lined the wall.

I didn’t get to spend the whole day there but there were plenty of other troopers that showed up through the day to fill any void that may have been left. I really enjoyed seeing the smiles on the faces of the kids as they looked at all the comics.

if you get a moment stop by Gotham City Limits. they have an awesome store and I am sure you would find something to read.

Here are some photos of me and the event during my time there.

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501st-Charity-Blog-Header-MASTER

I wanted to share with everybody the totals that the 501st , Florida Garrison and Squad 7 rose during 2013 for all the charities we have trooped for.

I try to document each troop I take part in but there are so many more troops that happen which raises money for so many charitable organizations That I am not a part of.

We are lucky enough as a group to do troops that are both fun like parades and then some that really raise money for people that are in desperate need of help.

This year the 501st  , Florida Garrison and Squad 7 did a bang up job helping out where we could and here are the numbers.

501st Legion Charity Total for 2013
Direct donations: $262,328.00
Indirect donations: $32,823,907.00

Florida Garrison Charity Totals for 2013
Direct Donations: $12,270.62
Indirect Donations: $4,409,498.50

Squad 7 Charity Totals for 2013
Direct Donations: $2,780.62
Indirect Donations: $470,858.92

dancing-trooper

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501st Squad7 members meet up once again to a show of force at the Art Walk in Downtown Jacksonville. The rain had stopped and the cool weather made for a nice night trooping with all the great people out to enjoy the evening. We walked about and did what we do so well and had a great time. Here are the photo of the evening. Hope to see you at the next Art Walk next month.

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Odyssey of the Mind

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This was another fun troop and for Squad7 a nice turn out of troopers. The Bishop Snyder High School put on this annual competition for it students and this year they invited the 501st to join the fun. The day is filled with problem solving activities for the students set in a caravel like atmosphere. There were hundreds of kids moving about the school grounds, taking part in all the activities.

Squad7 Troopers invaded the activities and were met with an awesome response from students and parents. Students started lining up and taking pictures, reaching out and touching the armor to see if it was real. Trading cards were a big hit as students collected them from each trooper and asked for autographs. The excitement was clear to us and everybody around us knew that this was to be an even better event then they could have imagined.

Students were spread all around the school grounds taking part in all the activities. Dressed in their team colors ready to competed, students could not help be smile as they walked past a Jawa  or a Tuskin Raider, Watching closely as the Storm troopers and Biker Scouts stood post. Star Wars has landed right in there schools court yard and they were not sure what to make of it. But they soon relaxed once they understood they were not being invaded and were being celebrated.

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For two hours the students enjoyed the company of the 501st Squad7 members. The School donated $200.00 to a charity in the name of the 501st and we greatly appreciated their generosity. We were assured by the staff at the school that we would be asked to come back for this great and educational event.

Thanks for all the Troopers who were able to make it out.

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It’s 9:30am on December 31, 2013 and Squad 7 members are gathering in the parking lot to get prepared for the 1 mile troop in the Gator Bowl Parade at downtown Jacksonville, Fl.

The sky was overcast and there was a cool breeze coming off the St Johns river that put a chill in the air. As the first few members showed up, we setup tables and started laying out the food and drinks for everybody as the got here. This was a great idea to kind of tail gate before the troop. it was a hit and everybody pitched in with everything needed to make for a successful tailgate party.

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There was excitement in the air as more and more members showed up. We had plenty of time to visit and get to know each other better, tell stories of past troops or talk about future troops and why we all love to part of the 501st and Squad 7. The food was great and the company was better, now we start getting ready for the troop.

We had a new addition to Squad 7, It was a M35 Deuce, It drove up to our little party and boy was it bad to the bone. its big, mean sounding and sporting the Imperial Cog on both sides. It was some kind of cool.

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Standing on the street waiting for the line to move, the troopers were ready to head down the one mile journey to wave and bring smiles to the crowed as we passed them by.  It was great to see all the families out there even with the cool weather and being in the middle of the week. We trooped on and did what we do and did it so good.

As we came to the parade end we all loaded up int the Deuce and trust me as a Stormtrooper that was a trick as the Deuce stands so high of the ground that we needed ladders to climb up. Troopers don’t climb latters so well but we managed and took the mile ride back to the staging area where we dismounted and attacked the food tables again.

Rounding out the day squad members wiped out the rest of the food and chatted it up and then we called it a day and for some headed to our evening places to celebrate the incoming new year.

Here are some photos of the event.

Photographers: Walter Woodruff and Kaelin Clevinger

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06-Troop Dec 7 2013 020What another wonderful day for a Troop and on this day I would do two troops. First up was the Pecan Park Flea Market Troop. The second will be in my next post, where you can read all about it.

The troopers gathered up and we started walking about the grounds. One of the benefits here is being able to stay out of direct sun light. Walking undercover of the main buildings make this troop more bearable. On this day the weather was son nice even been in the direct sun was not to bad, although you would not want to stay out in it to long.

This venue provides us with a lot of photo ops and bring smile to all the kids and parents out shopping for good deals. We also were able to show up to a young mans birthday by the paint ball field that Pecan Park has. “I didn’t know they had one now” but it was full of people shooting paint at each other.

We trooped around and continued to do what we do best “show off in our costumes lol” and then we were provide some food and drinks as a thank you for trooping the event.

We closed out the troop with a few more photos and hand shakes and then were for off to troop number two for the day. Here are some photos from this troop.

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image8The December Art Walk was a success. The crowed was great and the weather, well it was ok. maybe a little warm once all suited up but we managed just fine tonight.

The crowed turned out  and the mood was upbeat and exciting.

The Art Walk is held on the first Wednesday of every month. So come on out and enjoy the sights and sounds, take a picture with a Stormtrooper or two and just enjoy an evening at downtown Jacksonville.

here are some photos from the night. Enjoy and remember you to can enjoy some Art Walk fun.

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Photos by: Victoria Nelson – handler

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I know this is a bit late, but this and a few other post are going to be coming that are late to the game as well. sorry folks sometime real life gets in the way. but here you go.

star-wars-reads-dayStar Wars reads day at Book-A-Million.

This is a pretty big event for the 501st as we are spread out all around town at different locations to engage people at book stores around the city. Susie, Kyle and I were posted at the Atlantic boulevard Books-A-Million. This location had setup a table with Star Wars crafts and some treats for the kids to have.

I had a good time interacting with the kids and yes adults to as they walked around the store. we had a few kids come in costume which always makes this TK smile, even though you can’t see it lol.

Here are some images of the event and can’t wait until next year.

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10-09-2013 JU Color Run

This was the first annual Student Veterans of America “Show Your Colors Run” hosted by Jacksonville University. The race is a 5K fun run (not timed) that both starts and stops at the Jacksonville University amphitheater. Proceeds from the race and any donations received will go towards supporting veterans on campus.photo13

So this was a fun troop. nothing like over a hundred people covered in powered paint running to brighten your day. We started the day early on a beautiful morning by getting ready to excite the runners before their starting time. It was to be me and Vader today and we were welcomed with a grand entrance. we got dressed and were carried close to the waiting crowed via a golf cart. I must say setting on that thing was quite the chore, I just kind of fell onto the back seat and held on lol. The drive stopped close to the crowed so we could get out and walk up to them. The DJ spun up the Imperial march and we walked to the waiting crowed and starting giving high fives and taking pictures.

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We mingled for about 10 min and then the campus president and some other big wigs chatted it up with the crowed. when the was completed we were escorted to a staging area where runners would be coming by. we were to give them some imperial courage. you know a little force push from Vader, a blaster in the back end for this trooper ya know motivation. We watched as the runners come flying by and with each lap the kept getting more colorful the that last lap.

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The event came to a close and it was decided not to go back to the crowed as all that powered paint would not set well on Vaders cape. It turned out to be a great troop, I had a good time.

Donations raised was $4,320.58

501st and Squad7

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