Stephanie is an Operations Manager at the Residence Inn Atlanta NE/Duluth Sugarloaf by day, and a Star Wars Stormtrooper with the 501st Legion by night. The 501st Legion is a united organization of authentic Star Wars villain costumers with the mission of “Bad Guys Doing Good.” They volunteer thousands of hours to community service with costumed appearances at charitable events and fundraisers, as well as numerous visits to Children’s Hospitals to spend time with sick children.
At one such visit, 501st Legion members spent time getting to know a boy named Zachary. He was recently diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor and needed some cheering up. The Stormtroopers spent a great deal of time raving over the boy’s Star Wars toys, learning that Zachary was a huge fan.
Shortly thereafter, Zachary’s father found himself in a pickle when the entertainment for Zachary’s fifth birthday party canceled last minute. He had an idea: call the 501st Legion and see if they could make an appearance.
Being the heroes they are, Stephanie and others in the Legion had something different in mind. Across the street from her hotel property stands the Infinity Energy Center, home to the semi-pro Atlanta Gladiators hockey team. That night just happened to be Star Wars night at the Gladiators’ game, so Stephanie worked her magic with her Gladiator contacts to create an unforgettable experience for Zachary. The night included:
- A special tour of the arena
- Seats in the private suite
- A Gladiators jersey presented to Zachary by one of the players
- Toys collected as gifts for the birthday boy
- An entourage of Stormtroopers to escort him throughout the game.
The special treatment didn’t end there. To make sure Zachary and his family didn’t have to drive home exhausted after the celebration, Stephanie put them up in the two-bedroom suite at the Residence Inn Atlanta NE/Duluth Sugarloaf (owned and managed by Vision Hospitality Group, Inc.), where Zachary received even more cards, gifts, and a Star Wars birthday cake! The cherry on top was an invitation to a special pancake breakfast in the morning.
Stephanie really went above and beyond to help this family, and said of the experience, “What we can do, we should. What may be one night in a hotel or an evening in a suite at a hockey game can be one evening when a child can feel completely normal. His family can momentarily forget about these hardships and just enjoy the smile of their beloved child.”