Over the past few years, an odd female version of R2-D2 has appeared in the Star Wars universe, seemingly without explanation. However, the story behind the little astromech droid is both sad and inspirational.
The pink and white droid, known as R2-KT, became a part of the Star Wars universe after a little girl, Katie Johnson, was diagnosed with brain tumor. She passed away one year later, in 2005, but not before she had the chance to meet the little droid that was inspired by, and named after, her.
Katie was a normal little girl, loved to play with friends and shared her father’s passion for everything Star Wars. Her father, Albin Johnson, loved Star Wars so much, he founded the 501st Legion, according to i09. Naturally, Katie was a huge fan.
In 2004, Albin and his wife noticed that Katie was having trouble walking. She was falling down quite a bit, and her motor skills seemed to be deteriorating. Concerned, Katie’s parents took her to the doctor, where it was discovered she developed an inoperable brain tumor. Katie’s parents were devastated, not sure what to do, knowing there was nothing they could do.
While sitting at church, Albin noticed that the windows overlooking the congregation were shaped like R2-D2, resulting in an idea that would not only help Katie, but other sick kids, as well. Albin reached out to his friends at the 501st Legion, asking for an R2 unit, painted pink, to watch over her daughter during her final days.
Members of the R2 Builder’s Club went to work almost immediately, creating and assembling the pink R2 Unit, calling it R2-KT, named after Albin’s daughter. However, as time went on and the build continued, it was apparent that the R2-KT would not be complete before Katie’s time was up. Albin and the builders were devastated.
Fellow astromech builder Andy Schwartz heard about R2-KT and decided to do something about it. Instead of rushing through the build, experiencing potential bugs along the way, he decided to paint his own R2 unit pink and ship it to Katie as a surprise.
Katie fell in love with the R2-KT unit immediately, hugging it as it came to life. The R2-KT unit was at her side until her death in 2005.
Since Katie’s death, R2-KT has traveled the convention scene in an attempt to raise money for charities. The little astromech droid has traveled the world, bearing Katie’s name, according to the Business Insider.
R2-KT even made an appearance in Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Although her appearance has not deemed her to be canon in the Star Wars universe, it was a beautiful cameo nonetheless.
Despite her non-canon appearance, it seems as though R2-KT might officially become canon in The Force Awakens, according to Albin Johnson.
“Mary Franklin of Lucasfilm asked me to pitch the idea to Kathleen Kennedy (Lucasfilm President), and after hearing the story of our pink ambassador of hope Lucasfilm requested we ship her off to London early last year. Quick repairs were made and off she went for six months,” Johnson says in his email. “While he could not disclose just when we could expect to see the pink droid, he was assured that she will definitely appear.”
When Albin asked for the creation of R2-KT, he only hoped for a companion that would sit by his daughter’s side until her passing, hoping to provide her with unconditional friendship until the end. He never thought the project would become so huge, or that his daughter, in the form of an astromech droid, would become canon in the Star Wars universe.
[Image via Fotoearl/Shutterstock]