Nerd It Forward: Katie Goldman & the 501st Legion

A little girl made headlines a few weeks back after a photo of her dressed as a Stormtrooper while posing with Weird Al Yankovic made the rounds on social media.


Layla and Weird Al Yankovic. Photo credits: The 501st Legion

That girl in the photo is eight year old Layla Murphy and she is a devoted Star Wars fan. What you might not know is that photo op was the result of something extraordinary that happened five years ago.

The year was 2010 and our story begins with a different little girl, Katie Goldman. Katie was a typical seven year old girl growing up in Evanston, Illinois. She loved magic, princesses and was a massive Star Wars nerd. So when Katie requested a pink water bottle for school instead of her regular Star Wars one, out of the blue one morning, her mom, Carrie, was very surprised. Carrie then learned that Katie had been teased and bullied by her classmates for liking something that was considered “a boy’s thing”. Carrie blogged about her daughter’s ordeal and that’s what started this amazing chain reaction of events.

That blog post reached Jen Yates, a blogger and self-professed Trekkie. Katie’s story resonated with Jen and she shared it with her community on Epbot. Then Katie’s story reached Catherine Taber, who voiced Padme Amidala in Star Wars: The Clone Wars and she left an encouraging message on Carrie’s blog for Katie. Everything continued to snowball from there. Thousands of comments from nerds and geeks from all corners of the world flooded in to offer words of support to Katie. And with the help of the nerd community, the 501st Legion created the hashtag #maytheforcebewithKatie making her story to go viral and commissioned a custom Stormtrooper outfit for Katie which she wore like a badge of honour.

So when the 501st Legion heard about another little girl, Allison, who was not only verbally by also physically bullied by her classmates for liking Star Wars, the Legion contacted Katie. Katie jumped at the chance to nerd it forward by donating her Stormtrooper costume to Allison.

By now you probably have a good idea where the “Travelling Armor” ended up. You guessed it, the newest owner of the suit is Layla. Allison happily passed on the Stormtrooper costume after the 501st Legion found out that Layla was being bullied for liking Star Wars from a Facebook post by Layla’s mother.

According to a recent blog post from Carrie, Katie, now twelve, and Layla have spoken on the phone and from what I can tell, connected instantly.

So from us here at Nerdy Curiousities, we’d like to lend our voices and reach out to the Katies, Allisons, and Laylas of the world, who may still be struggling with being bullied. The nerd community is here for you and our voices are louder than the bullies. It’s okay to love what you love and most importantly, it’s okay to be you.

Nerd it forward,


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