At 14, I sat in a theater in Orange, California, and watched ANH 6 times. Consecutively. It was summer, I was not busy, sort of a whim with my sister, and it was a movie that I could watch more than once. Then again, at the start of that day, I had seen it about 4 times already. I ended up, I think, in the high 20s as far as movie theaters.
Much later and much older, I sat in the line at the Arizona Mills. Not for the midnight showing of Phantom Menace, all those tickets had long since been sold out, but for the first showing after that (1 AM). The line for the second showing was on the east wall, only a few dozen feet long, unlike the line for the midnight showing, which literally ran hundreds of feet around 3 sides of the building.
Watching the people in the other line, holding the spot in my line for myself, my wife and son and 2 daughters. Wishing I and my family were in the midnight showing line. And having read all the books, knowing what costumes I was seeing (there was a Chiss officer there! I just about fell over. And LOTS of what now I call TKs. Looked like fun, but I couldn't get out of line to find out anything more. By the time my family arrived, the midnight folks were already in the theater...
Then my son got pretty sick, and he was in Phoenix Children's Hospital, about 8 years old. It was obviously a very terrifying time, as any parent knows, and hopefully many of you can just take my word for it. And the DSG stopped by and visited him.
Now he's my son and I'm a Star Wars geek (that's a descriptor, not a defamation), so he knew all about Star Wars and stormtroopers, and he was really, really awestruck that the stormtroopers visited him. It kept coming up in conversations. We found out who those folks were, and he decided then he was going to be one when he got old enough. We didn't know if this was just youthfulness and it would pass, but he was determined on this one.
He recovered, and is fine, and life went on. For Episode 3 my wife and 3 kids camped out at the side of the Scottsdale Cine Capri for an entire week (they were home schooled and the Phoenix Fan Force was and is good company to be in). And after that week, we had accumulated enough hours in line that we were the first 5 people into the theater for the midnight show. This time, the right line, and we'd made a lot of good friends that continue until today.
My son turned 18, and the one thing he really wanted was a set of TK armor. We put it together and with a little bit of help he kept his vow, is now one of you, and is out there whenever he can to be there for someone like some of you were there for him a long time ago and not so far far away (actually down at the 51 freeway and Thomas...).
It's starting to snowball. He and his older sister, close but not quite 18 yet, both have the Mando armor plates, and they're working toward getting ready. And my other daughter has about two years, and plans for her own.
You probably never know who you touch, or how you touch them, or what effect it has on the kids you visit when you troop. Maybe it's just showing up somewhere for a while so Phoenix Children's or Make A Wish has a bit more capital to do the things they need to do. Sometimes it's wandering among a thousand Cub Scouts, who are REALLY impressed with your armor. Maybe it's showing up in a kid's room who has too many really heavy thoughts for their age and giving them the gift of getting away from all that for ten or fifteen minutes. I'm sure they don't all join you some day, but I'm proud of mine who did and are going to.
Nobody pays you for this. It your gift to the rest of us, freely given at your own expense. You probably do hear thank yous, so let me add mine to the list. Thank you for taking his mind (and ours, to be honest) off of our dragons at a time that we very much needed that. Thank you for continuing to do so. You never know who you touch when you do, even from a distance. You never know if the little guy or girl you visit is going to show up 10 years later in white plastic, but you do take them somewhere better for a little while, a calm spot in the middle of a storm. Thank you!