TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - “I’m just doing something small and fun and the little things, you know to make people smile,” said Jula the Mandalorian.
We introduced you to Jula a few months ago. Since then, Tucson’s love for its hero has done nothing but grow.
“If the least I can do is just put smiles on people’s faces, I guess that’s where it starts,” said Jula.
Much like the Mandalorian, Jula recruits people to be a part of his tribe. Each recruit gets a patch and gift card to buy ice cream. Those two things have put smiles on the faces of hundreds of people across southern Arizona, including Andres Rodriguez’s daughter, Ali.
“He was part of my daughters birthday party,” said Rodriguez. “She loved it. She had a great experience with him. She sees him as a true friend and somebody who does good for the community.”
If you haven’t seen the series, it tells the story of a bounty hunter whose dark past turns to light when he meets Grogu, AKA baby Yoda.
“The Mandalorian is basically a sci-fi version of my past,” said Jula. “The child has made him more empathetic. I see it the same way. I come back to America to take care of the city, and it’s made me more empathetic.”
Jula spent years living in Iraq, serving in the military and working for U.S. intelligence agencies. He says moving back to America and starting this mission- to serve his community- was not easy.
“I got off my motorcycle and started walking toward them. The feeling inside me, like ‘What am I doing? Why am I dressed up like this walking up to these kids asking if I can play soft ball with them? Are you serious right now?’,” said Jula.
But the empathy he’s gained from that moment and each one since, can be felt when you spend time with him.
Since March, he’s spent over $10,000 out-of-pocket to put smiles on the faces of complete strangers.
“I would rather give up money for the community than to take it,” said Jula.“I never thought It would get this far.”
Jula says he has started receiving gift card donations from people across the country.
“I never thought somebody out of state would follow me, and send me money to donate to children,” said Jula. “It’s absolutely amazing.”
He was nominated and chosen as Arizona’s Heart and Sol – and given a 300 dollar gift card thanks to Casino Del Sol.
“I don’t even know what to say.” said Jula. “This is unbelievable thank you to everyone who voted.”
Jula the Mandalorian of Tucson is very much a part of the Heart and Sol of this community, that he’s done so much to build up.
The proof- well that’s in all the smiles captured along the way. Without a doubt, this is the way.