“Homelessness always bugged me.”
In January, Kaden Stetler was sitting in his Lancaster apartment watching an episode of the animated TV show Star Wars Rebels with a friend. The specific episode detailed the heroics of the Rebels who were providing food to a starving planet.
“I’ve always had a passion for helping the homeless. I thought, ‘I wish I could do something like this.’ And I realized I could,” says Kaden.
Rebel Cause was born. The group’s message speaks for itself: “Rebel Cause is a group of Star Wars fans dedicated to uniting the fandom and doing good in the community.” The good is combating homelessness in Lancaster County. After spawning the idea, Kaden and friends got straight to work hosting their first event— a food drive—in February at The Comic Store.
“Three people came, and it was awesome. It was crazy for us,” says Kaden, who was enthusiastic about any kind of turnout to his hastily planned event. “We had forty people at our last event, so it has grown. It’s a humbling experience for sure.”
Rebel Cause raises money by hosting themed events, trivia and game nights, and basically calling on like-minded individuals to come hang out—while donating to a cause. Recent events held by Rebel Cause included B-Wings at Brewskins (at Rumplebrewskins) with guests Star B-Q providing wings and chatter for a live podcast, plus Star Wars inspired drinks, food, and prizes. Inspired by his bravery, Rebel Cause sent a lightsaber to Aiden Vazquez in September; the California 10-year old refused to physically retaliate against those who bullied him because it was not the Jedi way, but ended up with injuries needing hospital attention.
“Social media is fantastic, but I missed getting together. And there wasn’t enough of that going on in Lancaster,” says Kaden.
Locally, the group works directly with the Water Street Mission to ascertain the exact needs of the homeless population in Lancaster County. Rebel Cause has chosen to donate goods instead of cash and has supplied food, oral care kits, and feminine products to those in need. The last stash Rebel Cause collected filled an entire truck bed.
“A year from now I’d like to be a little bigger. I’d like to have events more often than we do,” says Kaden. “The more we can do is how I gauge how we are growing.”
His list of people to thank for helping out with Rebel Cause is long. The cause, three years old, has 800 grassroots followers on Facebook. “I like to say unity is community,” says Kaden. “Every single person I meet through this becomes my friend.”
When he is not combatting homelessness, Kaden hosts the podcast, Rebel Chatter— the “Star Wars podcast that wants to know your Star Wars story.” Started in 2016, the show is co-hosted by Kaden’s father Jake Stetler and is available on iTunes and at www.rebelchatter.com.
“We’ve had some pretty awesome guests on the show. We had Roger Christian who designed the original lightsaber on. That was crazy,” says Kaden, who then showed me his battle grade lightsaber. (I want one!) Kaden’s Star Wars story goes like this. A long time ago, in this galaxy …
It is a period of youth, perhaps only four years old. The Rebel Cause founder in training strikes his father’s stash of Star Wars figures hidden in a closet. It is his first brush with the characters of the evil Galactic Empire and Rebel Alliance.
During the discovery, his father managed to procure a copy of A New Hope—a movie which told of secret plans and the Empire’s ultimate weapon, the Death Star.
Pursued by an unrelenting desire for all things Star Wars, Kaden races toward fandom, custodian of a new inner mythology that can save the less fortunate and restore friendom to the galaxy….
*By the way, for all the Star Wars fans reading, Kaden’s favorite character is Luke and his least favorite character Jar Jar Binks. He explains why in the video interview above.