May the 4th be with you, Buffalo Bills fans! The staff here at Buffalo Rumblings loves Star Wars as much as we do the Bills. So, in celebration of Star Wars Day, we reached out to the one and only Bills Vader to learn a bit more about the proud veteran behind the helmet. Read on to discover why we feel the force is strong with this one!
Can you describe the mission of Bills Vader in one sentence?
Bringing fun and happiness to people through a common love of the game, our team, and Star Wars regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, political affiliation, or anything else that could divide people in any way.
What inspired you (and continues to inspire you) to become Bills Vader?
It was something I’ve always wanted to do since I returned from my 2014 deployment. I enjoy the happiness it brings to kids and adults alike.
How will this May the 4th be different for Bills Vader compared to previous years’ celebrations?
It really won’t be much different than any other day for me. I am not doing anything in particular except posting social media clips. I do try to engage with people whenever I can.
Do you wear the suit to every Bills game you attend?
I wear the suit to every Bills game and only take the helmet off going through the checkpoint and eating before halftime for about 10-15 minutes. Other than that, I keep it on throughout the tailgates and throughout the game until I get to my car to drive home. I also wear it to the Bills Backers bars that I visit.
Does Bills Vader have a favorite Bill, past or present?
My favorite player from the early 90’s is Thurman Thomas. I had his poster on my wall as a kid. In the late 90’s it was, hands down, Doug Flutie. He was always something special to the team in my eyes. At present I would have to say it’s a tie between Tre’ White and Allen. Both are hardworking and are fighters till the end.
A favorite game?
The greatest comeback in NFL history against the Oilers. I watch that documentary every year as a reminder that no matter how bleak things may seem, on any given Sunday there is ALWAYS a chance to comeback if you don’t quit.
What’s the thing you enjoy most while engaging with fans?
Just the positive energy they have and the love that they show for the character. Especially the kids. They have so much fun with it and get excited when they hear the voice. I once had a parent message me telling me that his kids now say he is the coolest dad ever lol.
Have you been able to connect with fans and/or the team in ways where there might not have been opportunity outside of the suit?
I haven’t connected with the team at all except to get a few pics with them during training camp along with my kids. Whenever I am not wearing the suit but wear my jersey with Bills Vader on the back very few people notice so it is kind of funny. I don’t mind it at all though.
You post about your military obligations on social media. Can you tell us a bit about those?
I have been in the military (Active and Reserve) for 18 years right out of high school. My military occupational skills (MOS) are 11 bravo which is infantry and 68 papa which is a Radiology Specialist. My current capacity is a Drill Sergeant.
A favorite Star Wars film—and why?
My favorite movie is Episode V, The Empire Strikes Back. That story had a great deal of character development, the shocker of the family reveal is a plus, and it was the first time we actually got to see Vader have a good fight.
When you’re not on the job, what else do you enjoy doing?
I enjoy spending time with my kids, assembling and painting models, photography, working out, and Latin dancing. I’m also studying for my master’s in Health Care Administration.
Anything else fans should know about Bills Vader and his role?
I wouldn’t say that I have any particular role. I consider myself just a regular guy and a regular fan just like anyone else. I just happen to dress in a costume. I still work a regular 9-5 job, raise my kids the best that I can, and continue to serve my country. I can only hope to continue to make people happy and just have a good time meeting new people. I always encourage people to support their locally owned businesses, be kind and empathetic to one another, and continue to support veterans. I don’t ask, nor expect, anything in return except for people to enjoy the character, have fun, be kind and respect each other, and never be afraid to say hello :)
Where can people find you and follow along with your journey to the dark side?
I encourage you to follow my fellow Star Wars Bills friends:
Bills Leia (IG: @weppn)
Mafia Mando (Twitter: @Mafia_Mando / FB: @MafiaMando716 / IG: @mafiamando716)
Bills Stormtrooper (Twitter: @billsstormtroop / FB: @billsstormtrooper / IG: @billsstormtrooper)