Logging on to your Twitter account these days can seem like a relatively dangerous thing to do. Certainly, a quick browse down your timeline can easily make you believe that the world is preparing to self-implode. From sexual abuse allegations in Hollywood to controversial decisions made in the White House, there seems to be no way to escape the torrent of bad news that keeps washing over us in angry waves.
However, hiding among the chaos are precious gems – in the form of 280 characters – which have the power to restore your full faith in humanity.
On this occasion, the (Jedi) knight in shining armor is Mark Hamill, the man behind the iconic character Luke Skywalker from the Star Wars franchise. No stranger to playing the hero, Hamill came to the rescue for a young boy stricken with an incurable illness.
The 66-year-old actor may not remember his own kindness, but the family of the young boy and those involved in the moment have never forgotten what he did that day.
This heartbreaking and amazing story was revealed by Ed Solomon. The screenwriter, best known for his work on Men In Black, Charlie’s Angels and Now You See Me, took to Twitter to share the unique story that he’d been a part of.
He began by explaining how one of his friends, Joe Sikorra, had reached out to him for his help after his sick son had requested to meet Luke Skywalker. John was obsessed with Star Wars, watching the trilogy every single day, and was desperate to meet his idol.
Clueless if it was possible, Sikorra reached out to Solomon, the only person he knew with connections to Hollywood, to see if he could make it happen.
“Around 1998, my son, John, was diagnosed with a very rare genetic disorder called juvenile Batten’s Disease (JNCL),” Sikorra, a former police officer, explained to the Hollywood Reporter.
“The disease robs kids of their vision first followed by cognitive motor function. Typically kids die in their late teens, early 20s. It is a very complicated disease and most doctors aren’t that familiar with it. So we lived in the moment, did as much as we could.”
Solomon also wasn’t sure if the request was possible, but he wanted to try.
“Not knowing Mark, I called his agent and explained that this lovely boy watched Star Wars every day and wanted to meet NOT Mark Hammill, but, rather, the actual CHARACTER that he played,” Solomon wrote on Twitter, before adding: “The boy’s own mental state had devolved past the point of being able to grok that Luke was fictional.”
“The agent begrudgingly said he’d call Mark, but also said not to get my hopes up,” Solomon wrote, building the suspense in true screenwriter style. “Ninety seconds later I got a call from Mark Hamill, who immediately said yes and gave me his home address.”
“He not only met with the boy, but spent hours answering question after question (sometimes the same ones repeatedly), AS ‘Luke’. Even posting this now makes me teary. He was compassionate, kind, and patient. And it literally meant the world to this kid and his family.”
The heartbreaking story immediately captured the heart of thousands of users on Twitter, who celebrated the actor for his big heart. Tragically, John passed away on September 24, 2015 at the age of 23. However, his memory lives on in those who have read his story.
As the story gained huge traction online, Mark Hamill himself became aware of it. Addressing his two million followers, the California native simply said:
“There’s no sweeter sound than a child laughing. I’ve been so lucky, [I] feel it’s my duty [to] give back in any way I can. Much prefer visits [to] hospitals than talk-shows. Heartbreaking but inspirational, makes my career seem trivial in comparison. Wish I could do more.”
However, it would appear that the star couldn’t have done anymore if he’d tried. Adding to his original story, Solomon explained how Hamill had given John and his brother, Ben, who also has JNCL, several Star Wars gifts before asking if there was anything else he could do for them. “Yes. Can I meet Princess Leia?” said John.
“John’s dad smiled and subtly waved to Mark ‘No no, you don’t have to do that!’ But Mark said ‘Can’t hurt to ask.’ That night I received the second – and only other – call I’ve ever gotten from
Mark Hamill. ‘Please tell John that Princess Leia would be delighted to meet him’.”
“I called [Carrie Fisher – who played Princess Leia] and told her about John and his brother, Ben, who was also afflicted with this rare, incurable disease. She became emotional, and spoke about the unfairness of life. She then said she had only two questions: ‘Where?’ and ‘When?’
Sadly, John’s condition deteriorated rapidly at that point, and they never got to meet.”
“I posted all this because, like many people, I was feeling overwhelmed by seeing hero after hero of mine trending, and then wincing as I peered through my fingers to read something horrible about them,” Solomon continued, unaware of how much of an impact his story had had on the world.
“It was one of those very touching, moving things,” John’s dad tearfully told the Hollywood Reporter. “In that moment, it raised John up and made him feel good and important and loved.”
The story has since been shared thousands of times online, cementing Mark Hamill in the halls of Hollywood heroes for eternity, along with the late Carrie Fisher, whose contribution to others was so great that she is missed daily by her fans.
We hope many more stories of this nature come to light. In the meantime, you can catch Mark Hamill doing what he does best in Star Wars: The Last Jedi which is set for release on December 14, or you can watch him collect money for charity while dressed as a Stormtrooper in this video:
May the force be with you John, always!