Much has been said about the plucky astromech that faithfully served Anakin, then Obi-Wan Kenobi, and finally Luke Skywalker. R2-D2 was my hero growing up. So much better than a dog: he could fly a space ship, swim underwater, hack into computer systems, and even zap creepy Muppets. Who wouldn’t want an astromech droid as a friend?
Today there’s a droid living in my house. People who visit are blown away at the mere sight of her. And when she goes on trips, people are amazed to see her rolling on her own steam, dome a-twirling, lights flashing, and that familiar chirp-beep-whistle coming from her speakers. But every time I get the same thing: why is your droid pink?
Okay, so if you’re a hardcore Star Wars fan maybe you’ve heard of her. R2-KT is the pink astromech droid that was built in honor of my daughter, Katie, and that’s why she bears the name “KT.” But some may not know the full story.
In 2004 Katie was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. Katie loved Star Wars and loved the color pink. When her health declined to the point she couldn’t get out of bed, she said she wished she had a droid to watch over her like R2-D2 watched over a sleeping Padmé in Attack of the Clones.
Word got around fast to the Star Wars community. At the time I had been working with the 501st Legion for seven years in helping charities that help sick children. It was a real kicker to admit that now my family was in need. And boy did the help come! Thousands of letters poured in from all over the world. People from every walk of life reached out and embraced her and her family and lent us their strength. Troopers of the ECG in New York stood on street corners collecting funds in their trooper helmets. When George Lucas visited Japan during his Revenge of the Sith promotional tour, the 501st Japanese Garrison got him to film a “get well” message to Katie. The love Katie felt was so inspiring.
Meanwhile, Jerry Greene of the R2 Builders heard about our plight. Overnight, and without being asked, he organized his fellow droid builders into a massive campaign to collect parts and assemble an Artoo unit for Katie. The R2 Builders group knew this was a job for them, and in mere months they constructed a custom Artoo unit painted in pink and dubbed her R2-KT. It rolled, it blinked, it even talked: Katie had a droid to watch over her! And Katie kept KT by her bedside through her final days.
Katie’s legacy lives on in her pink companion. R2-KT tirelessly tours the world, spreading the joy to Star Wars fans and a message of hope for kids who suffer childhood illnesses. She attends fan conventions, visits sick children in hospitals, appears in parades, inspires young girls that Star Wars has a place for them, and helps raise funds for a wide range of charities.
In 2007 Hasbro produced an R2-KT action figure, which raised $100,000 for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. In 2008 Dave Filoni of Lucasfilm featured KT in a cameo role in The Clone Wars animated feature film, making her a canon member of the Star Wars universe! Just last year KT appeared in the Star Wars Weekends parade in Disney World, then traveled to be a guest of honor at Celebration Europe in Germany.
R2-KT has come to represent the coolest thing about the Star Wars legacy: spreading the magic of hope (it’s right there in the title of Episode IV). Every time R2-KT rolls into a hospital room, and I see a child’s face light up at the sight of her, I just remember the love and dedication that so many other Star Wars fans poured into her to make it happen. If you ever needed a reason to be proud to be a Star Wars fan, just be on the lookout for a little pink droid. She’ll remind you that there’s power in hope.