The Birth of a Droid

November 13, 2004: a little girl named Katie Johnson was diagnosed with a brain tumor. It was a sad, sad day to be sure. Her father, Albin Johnson, was the founder of the 501st Legion, a Star Wars costuming fan club that did charity work all over the world. Over 4000 501st Legion members and countless more Star Wars fans rallied together to support the ailing child.

Katie's treatment immediately took a toll on her poor little body. But her spirit was strong. She eventually came to terms with the weight gain and hair loss, and loved to look pretty for church. One day Albin noticed something funny about the sanctuary's windows. Call it a sign, call it Al not paying attention in church, but the window looked eerily like an R2 unit and it gave him an idea: why not build an R2 to watch over Katie as she slept (just like R2-D2 watched over Padme in Episode II)? Katie's older sister Allie went one step further: why not paint it pink and name it after Katie: R2-KT? An idea was born...

April, 2005: Albin discovered the R2 Builders Group, another Star Wars fan club. Albin decided he wanted to build a droid for Katie to watch over her as she slept (like R2-D2 did for Princess Amidala in Episode II). Word got out that Albin and Katie's sister, Allie, wanted to build a pink R2 droid and name it R2-KT in honor of Katie. In no time at all the entire R2 Builder's Group pulled together to help Albin meet this goal. Jerry Greene put out the call for donated parts and graciously volunteered to engineer the project, knowing Albin's novice skills as a builder would put the project too far out of reach of his goal. Click on the image to the left to see the R2 Builder's Club early rendering of what R2-KT should look like.

Knowing time was short, one of the members of the group named Andy Schwartz generously shipped his R2 unit down to Katie's home, complete with a pink makeover. This way Katie would be guaranteed a droid while she was still able to enjoy it. And enjoy it she did, hugging it at first sight and lovingly sleeping with it in her room every night as it watched over her.

Here are pictures of R2-KT first being delivered to our house by our friend Cheralyn Lambeth. Katie had no idea what was coming. That morning when her mother dropped her off at our house she was met with a pretty pink droid waiting to be her friend. She never stopped loving it.

August 9, 2005: Katie Johnson finally ended her battle with cancer, passing peacefully in her sleep. An outpouring of grief overwhelmed the entire Star Wars community, including George Lucas himself.

July 8, 2006: R2-KT is completed in record time, just over one year from start date. She is presented to Albin Johnson and family at the annual Shoreleave Star Trek convention in Baltimore, Maryland. Pictured here are (l to r): Jerry Green, Albin Johnson, Albin's 2 daughters Allie & Emily, Albin's wife Kathy, Mike Marosy, Pat Coaju, Alex Coaju, Greg Tracy and Andrew Schwartz. You can see more pictures of the presentation in the R2-KT's Adventures section of this website.

Soon after the presentation, the Force.Net Star Wars webzine featured an article on the occasion. Click on the banner to see the article.

Every story has it unsung heroes. R2-KT was the combined efforts of several several robot builders who donated their time, parts, talents, and money to make the pink droid happen. Parts/Donations came from just about everywhere, from Houston, to all the way down in Florida, and both East/West coast you name it people from that location poured the help plus love into this project. Click on the jawas to see a list of all the people who helped out. Thank you to everyone and to the entire R2 Builders group!

Click here to visit Jerry Greene's R2-KT construction site. You'll see every stage of R2-KT's development, from concept to gathering parts to painting and final product. That the entire R2 Builder's Group was able to plan this and that Jerry was able to complete this in a year's time is nothing short of incredible. Working on a project as complicated as R2-KT takes a great deal of organization and effective scheduling to get the job done. Facility management uses CMMS software for effective collection and organization of information to ensure optimal performance. Organizing, prioritizing, and scheduling maintenance and project work is a key function of CMMS software.