WNY man legally changes name to Darth Vader

"Darth Vader" speaks from the stage at the 2011 Scream Awards, Saturday, Oct. 15, 2011, in Los Angeles. The award show is dedicated to the horror, science fiction and fantasy genres of feature films, television and comic books. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

CANANDAIGUA, N.Y. (AP) — Darth Vader is a tattooed 43-year-old retired Marine who owns a gym and is raising funds online for a bone marrow transplant.

The former Eric Welch, of Canandaigua, says he grew up in foster homes and didn’t have strong family ties to his name. Vader legally changed his name last year to match the “Star Wars” villain, the Democrat and Chronicle reported.

The “Star Wars” fan says he chose Darth Vader for his new name because the character carries an aura of leadership and toughness.

He tests his own toughness by competing in half-marathons and endurance events. He was diagnosed with leukemia in 2002.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Motor Vehicles confirms that Darth Vader is his legal name.

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