The owner of an upstate New York gym has had his name legally changed from Eric Welch to Darth Vader. Vader told the Democrat and Chronicle that he grew up in foster care, explaining, "I wanted to do something of my own. I had no strong family ties to my name. I wanted a separation from my self and my past."

Why the Sith Lord? Vader said of the Evil Empire, "They had better weapons, better vehicles. I just gravitated toward Darth Vader, he was the man. He carried an aura of leadership, toughness and didn't say much to get his point across."

The Democrat and Chronicle also reports, "Vader has also battled leukemia and a serious bone marrow disorder for 13 years. His chronic condition is manageable, he said, but will eventually require a bone marrow transplant. He's currently an outpatient at UR Medicine's Wilmot Cancer Institute. Since 2002, he completed 15 sessions of chemotherapy, most recently in 2008. He's stable for now. He is currently on the Bone Marrow Transplant list at Seattle's VA Puget Sound Health Care System in Washington state A gofundme online fundraiser has collected nearly $15,000 to help with medical expenses not covered by insurance."


Vader, who owns Allegiant Fitness has has competed in 13 (!) half-marathons and 18 (!) Tough Mudder races this year, says he enjoys showing his ID to prove that his name really is Darth Vader. And he liked The Force Awakens.