Autism Speaks With Star Wars Characters

PITTSBURGH, Pa.—Star Wars characters surprised children and their families at the Autism Speaks Walk in Pittsburgh on Saturday, June 12. Throughout the morning hundreds of attendants smiled and took pictures with members of Ghost Base of the Rebel Legion, Garrison Carida of the 501st and Black Mountain Guard of the Mandalorian Mercs.

A Clone Star Corps trooper, a Tusken Raider, two Mandalorians, two Jedi, Luke Skywalker and Rey all appeared to excited Walk attendants while helping to raise awareness about autism. Children often nervously approached the characters, after all a Tusken can be quite imposing, but were quickly felt welcome as the Jedi heroes swore to protect them and offered their lightsabers for pictures.

“It was an interesting event. The kids’ excitement, even the ones that didn’t come up to us, was very rewarding,” said Jasmine Perez, Ghost Base member who costumes as Rey, “Making their day is what matters.”

The Autism Speaks Walk, sporting numerous booths filled with games, information, food and a mile long walk, is hosted annually by the Alpha Xi Delta women’s fraternity to raise money and promote awareness for children and families dealing with autism. This year marked a larger turnout for Star Wars characters than for previous walks providing more awareness and activities for the families and the characters.

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The desert planet characters, the Tusken Raider and Rey, took to a rainbow sandbox to build sandcastles with nearby kids. The pair assembled fortresses with plastic castle pieces provided by the kids. Nearby the Jedi characters brought smiles to children’s faces by playing with stuffed bears provided by a local booth.

The appearance of folks from a galaxy far, far away brought joy to the attendants of the Autism Speaks Walk. Many came up to the groups saying a person was their favorite character or simply smiled by getting a high-five from Master Luke.

“I would do it again. I loved being able to say hi to kids and give them hugs,” said Jasmine Perez, “A child’s excitement at meeting their loved characters warmed my heart.”

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