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Adults Playing Dress-Up: Metro Detroit Man Becomes Storm Trooper For Charity

CLAWSON (WWJ) - Michael May says he's wanted to wear white armor since he was seven.

Now the 45-year-old from Clawson is getting his chance as a volunteer in a group dedicated to those who want to dress up as their favorite Star Wars characters.

Micheal and Allison May
Micheal and Allison May (photo courtesy Michael May)

May wears his Storm Trooper suit for the 501st Legion, which celebrates the bad guys. "When the movie came out in 1977, what kid did not want to be a Storm Trooper?" said May. (There's the Rebel Legion, for the good Star Wars characters like the Jedi.)

But there's one thing that May wants to make clear: "We're not all single guys who live in our parents' basement. Many of us are married." May said his wife and 15-year-old daughter are big fans of the Star Wars movies as well.

May made his Storm Trooper suit himself. According to the 501st rules, it must meet the exact specifications of the movie. It's not always comfortable.

"My uniform is ABS plastic. So in the summertime, it's warm. In the cold in the winter, it's not insulating very much and it's restricting...You can't do cartwheels in it."

Not that May would try, but he said he can't sit down either and sometimes that hard plastic pinches in places he doesn't want it.

Yet it's clear to this die-hard Star Wars fan, there is nothing like it.

"It's an experience I can't explain to anyone who hasn't done it. The first time I put armor on, I couldn't stop smiling the entire day. It was just incredible."

Micheal and Mathew May _ Clawson Trick or Treat Trail Clawson MI
Micheal and Mathew May (photo courtesy Michael May)

Fellow 501st Legion member John Ciambelli of Ferndale went to a lot of trouble to have his Boba Fett costume made. "I had to contact 30 different people throughout the world, Germany, Austria, Argentina, England, as well as in the United States." The suit cost about $4,500.

Both say they fell in love with Star Wars as children and relish the chance to re-live that feeling dozens of time a year at charity events. The 501st has 130 members in its Great Lakes Garrison in Michigan. There are 7,200 members worldwide and the group estimates they've raised well over $20 million for charities.

The volunteers pay for all expenses out of their own pockets. Like Ciambelli, May said the best part of any event is seeing the joy on the faces of children when they meet their favorite Star Wars character.

"To be able to do something that I love and to be able to help the public as well...I can't think of anything more honorable to do."

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