A 501st Story: An Empire the world needs
Being a villain is not an easy task; they need to look menacing, send fear into the hearts of their enemies, and being just bad guys. But, villains can do something different; they can do good while looking bad.
The world famous 501st Legion of Star Wars & cosplay lore are changing the way society views villains. The legion is an organization dedicated to charity; aiming to brighten the day of any Star Wars fan. Many men & women volunteer their time and abilities to wear the uniform of the 501st. Some where the uniform to express themselves, some wear it to be part of something bigger, but some wear the uniform to give back to their community.
On 1997, the legion was founded by Albin Johnson & Tom Crews in South Carolina. Since then, it has grown to over ten thousand members and a loving fan base. The non-profit organization has grown to have garrisons & outposts all over the world, costuming for many charitable events, hospital visits, & conventions.
One of those garrisons is the Florida garrison. Within that garrison is the Tampa Bay Squad, which spans throughout West Central Florida. The squad is celebrating it’s fifteenth anniversary while assisting many charities & events along the way.
During that time, they were able to recruit a loyal member in one of those events. One who has shown his love for the Legion in many ways & miles. Jason George is that man; he encountered the 501st at a birthday party in his honor. But, Jason’s love for the galaxy far, far away began much earlier in his life.
Jason was a fan of Star wars since he was eight years old. he was fortunate enough to see The Empire Strikes Back when it was first released in theaters, becoming his favorite film of the franchise. “When I was young, we didn’t have social media to broadcast everything. It was the talk of the school when Empire Strikes Back came out.”
With that, Jason went on to turn his love for the films into volunteering with the Tampa Bay squad of the 501st Florida garrison. He began suiting up with the squad in 2014, at a Star Wars Reads Day, and appreciating it every step of the way. “I use my dreams to help others, by devoting my time to help bring smiles to kids of all ages. To me, this is priceless.” Jason explained.
When asked what is his proudest accomplishment with the squad, he went on to say the mileage he puts in to attend and volunteer at events. In one week last year, he put in over five hundred miles on the road to “troop” as he describes. He stated “The sacrifice helps me sleep better at night, knowing that I made a difference somewhere.”
Jason is not only traveling, but building his cosplays for the squad. He has spent over a thousand hours on a Garazeb “Zeb” Orrelios build from the popular animated show “Star Wars Rebels”. He does these projects to reach his personal goal of touching as many lives as he can, while trying to make the world a better place.
When asked if he had any words of advice for future cosplayers & Legionnaires, he said “The world needs us; it is bigger than we are, and we have to help it heal, while being true to ourselves.” Jason imagines a world where gaps can be bridged through the art of cosplay, using it’s creativity to make dreams come to life.
You can find out more about Jason’s squad at:
You can find out more about the 501st Legion at:
Keep on trooping!