Katie Lucas, a sophomore at Spalding High School in suburban Baltimore, was crowned homecoming queen earlier this month. Her father, Charlie Lucas, who had undergone treatment for cancer for months, was standing behind her when she was crowned. Her victory gave her a moment to think of her family’s struggles.
Katie contacted her father following the ceremony, and he told her he wanted her to wear his “trophy” of a headband to her next homecoming dance. Then she told her mom and asked him what would be appropriate.
“I thought about what I could do to comfort his grieving process,” Katie told The Washington Post on Monday. “In our particular situation, he was speaking of how he felt numb and lost without his family.”
Katie decided to wear a Princess Leia headband. The Star Wars movie has special significance for the family. Charlie Lucas was a big fan of the films as a child and later began reading about the character when he read the books about her life. She returned the compliment.
“She said, ‘It’s because you are Princess Leia that I put the headband on,'” Katie recalled. “At that point, I asked her how she could help him get over his grief, and she said she was going to help her own homecoming queen do the same.”
Katie offered to give the headband away to someone who needed it most. She bought and decorated all new Star Wars headbands with the understanding that if someone needed them and she was unable to fulfill that need, they would go to another family in need.
“I can only imagine that is exactly what he felt,” Katie told the Post. “If he was feeling lonesome or missing his family and all this was happening to him, I wanted to be able to bring him one little bit of joy.”
Lucas, 46, died on March 27. In his obituary, he was described as being “one of the great characters” of Star Wars. He was an entrepreneur who used his knowledge of accounting to make a fortune in the technology and accounting sectors. He taught computer classes to adults and was a leader in his computer club.
His obituary goes on to note that Charlie Lucas met his future wife, Dana Rose, at the University of Baltimore. She was the reigning homecoming queen of Spalding when he became a family friend and formed a strong bond with the family.
“It’s such a senseless loss and I just want to help others and bring some sort of comfort to the families that have lost someone,” said Katie, who will be a senior at Spalding in the fall. “It was just his way of dealing with his pain and his grief. I want to give people the opportunity to have an outlet, to not just feel alone.”
Her mother had told her earlier this spring how special it was that Dana Rose still wore the crown she had won as homecoming queen her senior year. She wanted to make it more meaningful for Katie by putting a Star Wars headband in Katie’s hand.
And so Katie did the honorable thing. The homecoming queen gave away her crown at the football game on Friday.
“There was such an overwhelming response from everyone,” she said. “I received mail from all over the world.”
Others — Lucas’ classmates and teachers — have gotten in touch with Katie. She said she decided to share her story not only to help others in need, but also to show that “some kindness can go a long way.”
“It’s a story that can inspire so many people,” she said. “If someone can get through this I can do the same.”
She said one of the most exciting things about her newfound fame is the “random shout-outs” people have sent her. She recalled a recent one in which someone told her they were hearing her voice in their dreams.
“I have messages from people where I can tell what they’re thinking by my voice in their dreams,” she said. “It really makes me really happy.”