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Star Wars: The Force Awakens has been known to make grown adults tear up at a moment's notice, so the story we're about to tell you could be considered par for the course. That is, until you realize that the story of R2-KT is a very real tearjerker involving Katie Johnson, the terminally ill girl that inspired the fandom to give her an Astromech protector for her final days. Prepare some tissues, folks.
The founder of the 501st Legion, Albin Johnson, was delivered the sad news that his daughter, Katie, was suffering from an inoperable brain tumor in 2004. With only months to live, Katie's last wish was to have an R2 unit to watch over her, and thanks to R2 Builders' Club, Katie's wish was granted. Not only was a custom droid built for her, with pink accents instead of R2-D2's standard blue, it was designated R2-KT – being a clever pun on her own name. A placeholder droid, with all of her specifications, was sent to the Johnson household – and R2-KT watched over Katie until her death on August 9, 2005.
While her namesake may have passed on, R2-KT's story doesn't end there. The finished droid was presented to the Johnson family after its completion, and it has not only toured children's hospitals and fundraisers as an emissary of hope, but it's also become a canonical character in the Star Wars universe. With appearances in the animated TV show Star Wars: The Clone Wars already on its resume, Geeks Speak has recently confirmed that the droid will be making its feature film debut in this winter's Star Wars: The Force Awakens - though the exact spot of her appearance has not been revealed.
There is something about being part of a large fandom like Star Wars that brings out the best in pockets of its ranks. With stories such as that time the 501st Legion presented a Stormtrooper arm to a child in need of a prosthetic limb, or even the more recent story of how terminally ill fan Daniel Fleetwood got to see the latest film before sadly passing at age 32, there is no shortage of compassion among fans of the iconic sci-fi franchise. The commemoration of Katie Johnson's memory is a bittersweet reminder of what can happen when a fan community takes the time to put aside their obsession, and show humanity its beautiful nature.
One thing's for sure, we'll be keeping our eyes peeled for the heroics of R2-KT, when Star Wars: The Force Awakens opens in theaters on December 18th. If history has taught us anything, it's that like the fans that love them, the droids of the Star Wars universe can move worlds with even the smallest of gestures.