I’m warning you ahead of time that this is going to get you in the feels, so have tissues handy.
13 year-old Matthew Tillyer attended Celebration in cosplay like a lot of young Star Wars fans. However, instead of cosplaying a character from the movies, he went as a vehicle. Yep, Matthew designed a TIE cosplay for his wheelchair and his dad built it.
Matthew was paralyzed from the neck down after a bout with pneumonia in 2013. When members of The 501st saw Matthew at the show (winning first place in the costume contest no less), they were so moved by his love for Star Wars, his story, and his positive attitude that they decided to make his dream of becoming a TIE pilot come true.
501st members from garrisons all over the world contributed everything from a helmet to the boots to outfit him as a TIE pilot, and even raised $1,500 for medical expenses! Members of the Imperial Sands Garrison and the Golden Gate Garrison surprised Matthew with both the outfit and an honorary membership into the 501st.
Matthew still has challenges to face and is dealing with ongoing medical problems, however his smile, which was already pretty bright, is mega-watt after his experience with the 501st.
See more pictures and a video after the break.
You can see more about Matthew and help donate to his care at the Facebook page his family has set up for him.
Additional images via Prayers For Matthew Tillyer.