The 501st, a group of Darth Vader’s goons, are getting ready to appear at the upcoming Autism Speaks Walk to pose for photos for a good cause. Courtesy of Susan Moore

The autism-awareness nonprofit Autism Speaks has been around for 14 years, and this is its third year doing a charitable 5K in Fort Worth, said their logistics chair for the Fort Worth committee, Tiana Sims. In their time in Cowtown, this will be the first year they receive some help from two national Star Wars cosplay charity groups.

The Mandalorian Mercenaries and the 501st Rebel Legion are among the handful of cosplay groups who use their love of dressing up for the greater good. While members of these specific groups dress up like bounty hunters and Darth Vader’s goons, respectively, they’ll be doing good in the 817 Saturday as they pose in full-body-armor for photos at the Autism Speaks Walk.

“The 501st Rebel Legion and the Mandalorian Mercenaries will be there for picture-taking,” said Susan Moore, a member of the North Texas branch of the 501st called the Kessel Base. “We do this for the love of the Star Wars and to bring smiles to the young and old.”

Knockouts 300x250 Brittany

The 501st is a volunteer-based international organization that was founded in 1997 by South Carolina residents Albin Johnson and Tom Crews.

“The 501st Legion is dedicated to the construction and wearing of screen-accurate replicas of imperial stormtrooper armor, Sith lords, clone troopers, bounty hunters, and other villains from the Star Wars universe,” she said.

The Mandalorian Mercenaries were founded in 2004 by Tom Hutchens and became an official group in 2006.

Sims said the 1K/5K walk raises funds to give to individuals on the spectrum and hopes to offer a range of solutions throughout their lives. “It’s an event to bring multiple families togetherness, in efforts to build a community of understanding and acceptance,” she said.

The walk itself is not themed, other than being a charitable walk centered on raising money for autism, Sims said. “We like to invite different characters because our walkers always look forward to having them there,” she said.

Sims said she became involved with Autism Speaks Walks when her cousin’s son was diagnosed with autism. “I searched online and came across the upcoming Autism Speaks Walk happening in Fort Worth, so I got a few friends and family members to participate,” she said.

A year later she returned as a volunteer.

“I just have a passion for the autism committee” she said. “I love to watch the way my cousin’s son’s mind works. People with autism are unique, and if people would just take the time out to spend some time with someone who has autism, they could see the beauty in the way they think and see the world.”

Autism Speaks Walk

8am Sat at Trinity Park, 2001 University Dr, FW. Free, donations accepted.