Meet the New Orleans stormtroopers known as the 501st ‘It’s not just playing dress up’

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NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) - The long-awaited "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" came out at midnight Friday to rave reviews, but for some people, Star Wars is more than a movie -- it's a full-time mission! Twist producer Jeff Kent shows you the powerful force for good that drives New Orleans stormtroopers known as the 501st.

"My name is Gary Breaux. I'm a field auditor, and I'm a proud 501st Legions member," says Breaux.

He is just one of 5,000 active members in 22 different countries.

The  501st Legion is an all-volunteer costuming group that focuses on very accurate bad guy costumes from Star Wars films.

"It's not something that's bought off the shelf, you know.  What we wear is as good as if not better than film quality," explains Breaux.

He says, by putting on the costume he transforms himself from an average, everyday person to a completely different persona.  "The bad guys might lose but they always have the coolest-looking costumes," says Breaux.

But it's not just playing dress up.

"I mean sometimes it is but I mean we do it with a purpose," Breaux says. "When we go to see these kids at Children's Hospital, it's not for our benefit; it's for their benefit."

"There was a young man whose birthday party we went to at Children's Hospital, and when we went into his room, he just lit up like a Christmas tree, a big smile on his face," says  Brian Held. An IT professional and 501st Legions member.

"His father told me after that he had been fairly listless and not very happy, but when we came in, he definitely brightened his day. A couple of months after his birthday party, Kendall passed away. It would be nice to think that the time we spent with him for his birthday party would have given him a good, positive experience before he left."

Watch the video above to hear more from the 501st.

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