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St. Paul stormtrooper has his late wife's force with him on California hike

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A St. Paul artist who's had trouble getting his creative spark back since his wife's death a few years ago has spent the last month showing Californians what a trooper he is.

Kevin Doyle will wrap up a San Francisco-to-San Diego hike of more than 600 miles on Thursday, when he strolls into a comic convention dressed as a stormtrooper from Star Wars.

Doyle has dedicated his journey to his late wife, Eileen Shige Doyle, and is raising money for a charity called Eileen's Little Angels that helps children going through chemotherapy.

Eileen was a comic artist who died of pancreatic cancer in November 2012 at age 45. Doyle tells the San Diego Union Tribune that since then he's "...struggled with how to deal with the loss. I’ve been self-destructive and my art suffered,” he said.

Eileen sold her artwork at events like this weekend's Comic-Con International in San Diego. Both avid Star Wars fans, the pair met through a Star Wars costume group, the 501st Legion.

The couple often appeared together in their matching stormtrooper costumes. Kevin told StarWars.com he tried to throw Eileen off by proposing to her in a Darth Vader costume, but she knew it was him.

The Union Tribune says that since Eileen's death Kevin has left his job, lost his home, and has felt adrift.

He decided to regroup by going back to basics: walking. And Star Wars.

He started his journey at a Star Wars museum in the San Francisco Bay area. He's chronicled the adventure on Facebook and

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The novelty of the hiking stormtrooper is also drawing media attention ranging from The Coast News to Southern California Public Radio.

Doyle's been camping along the way – pushing his gear in a three-wheeled cart – and says he's been averaging about 20 miles a day while meeting a battalion of supporters.

Some of those who pose for photos with Doyle also offer him water or food, make donations, or share their own stories.

According to the Union Tribune, one couple hiked with him for 10 miles and invited him to return after the comic convention for some skydiving.

Doyle does plan to travel back up the California coast after Comic-Con, this time by train. He tells The Coast News he may arrange for a garrison of costumed stormtroopers to walk across the Golden Gate Bridge.

But after making himself a spectacle for a month, Doyle is also looking forward to some alone time, telling the newspaper: “We’ll see what happens after this. I kind of left this as an open book for me.”

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