SINGAPORE - R2-KT will be greeting Singaporeans next month (May) as part of the Star Wars Day celebrations. The pink droid is known in the international fan community as a symbol of hope and courage.
The droid will be joined by its owner Albin Johnson, who famously had it commissioned in 2004 to keep his seven-year-old daughter Katie company. She had been diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour at the time and was given only months to live.
The idea was inspired by the scene of droid R2-D2 watching over Padme Amidala in the movie Star Wars: Episode II - Attack Of The Clones (2002).
The commissioned droid could not be finished in time but because Katie's story had spread, a fan builder painted his own droid pink - her favourite colour - and had it shipped to her. She reportedly hugged it often in her final days before she died in August 2005.
Today, the completed commissioned R2-KT, with its signature pink hue, travels around the world to spread awareness of paediatric illnesses as well as to bring cheer tosick children.
In a telephone interview with The Straits Times on Thursday (April 12) morning, Mr Johnson said that he is happy that R2-KT has been appreciatedby people all over the world.
He said: "R2-KT gets a lot of love. People will come out and they wait a long time to hug her. People shed tears when they meet her. She represents for them the hope and the courage to fight through illnesses and misfortune."
Mr Johnson, who is married to a fellow fan named Kathy whom he met at a Star Wars convention, has four other daughters aged between 11 and 22. When he is not busy bringing R2-KT around, he works in IT for the South Carolina State Department.
In Singapore, R2-KT and Mr Johnson will be making appearances on May 4 and 5 at the F1 Pit Building, where the Star Wars Day: May The 4th Be With You festival will be held.
Every year, Star Wars fans around the world celebrate all things Star Wars on May 4 as the date sounds like the franchise's famous catchphrase, "May the Force be with you".
The festival will end with the Star Wars Run, where participants can choose different routes featuring Star Wars elements.
Mr Johnson also happens to be a co-founder of the 501st Legion, the 12,000-member Star Wars costuming organisation which has local units known as "garrisons" in more than 60 countries around the world. Singapore has its own garrison, whose members often make appearances at promotional and charitable activities while dressed up as various Star Wars characters.
Mr Johnson is excited to meet the members of the garrison here, he says, on his first trip to South-east Asia.
"I'm looking forward to hearing all of their stories. And that's how it usually works. People will come up to me and tell me their Star Wars stories, but people will be clamouring to hug KT. She has far more fans than I do."
For more information, go to www.esprimo.com.sg/StarWarsRunSG.