Every Star Wars fan knows that Christmas is coming early, and it’s happening this weekend when the much-anticipated new movie opens in theaters across the U.S. For a few young fans who are spending opening weekend in the hospital, this week still proved to be epic when they got to meet Luke Skywalker in real life.
Mark Hamill, better known as Star Wars legend Luke Skywalker, is using the revival of the iconic film series that made him famous as an opportunity to reach out to some of his youngest fans. Hamill, in partnership with the Star Wars’ Force For Change initiative created by Lucasfilm and Disney, has been visiting kids in the hospital leading up to the movie premiere — with some of his famous friends like Darth Vader and R2-D2. In a pre-movie tour that will visit eight different hospitals in the United States, kids will get to meet some of the cast and have an afternoon of fun, complete with a game center, photo booth, and character photo ops.
From the looks of Facebook, the recent visit to the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles was just as fun for Mr. Skywalker as it was for the kids. Late last week, Hamill updated his Facebook page with a YouTube clip of the LA visit that said:
“Feeling the pure joy & exuberance of those children up close & personal is a gift to cherish.”
The great thing about what this Force For Change program is doing is not just the inspiration — it’s the inclusion. Most of the time, kids in the hospital who are battling an illness are left out of the fun events that everyone else is getting excited about, whether it’s seeing a celebrity in concert, going to the opening of what’s already being called a blockbuster movie, or even getting to open presents around the Christmas tree.
We’ve seen a big movement in celebrities reaching out to children in the hospital, with special moments shared by quite a few non-celebs, too. Right after his own blockbuster movie hit the theaters, Chris Pratt reenacted his famous raptor scene from Jurassic World with the kids at Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital in Baton Rouge. And before Halloween, Houston Texans’ defensive end J.J. Watt visited the Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston dressed as Batman to sign autographs and paint some pumpkins. Even hospital staffers are getting in on the act — window washers at the St. Louis Children’s Hospital have been known to scale the building dressed as Spiderman to lift kids’ spirits and keep them entertained.
Star Wars is shaping up to be the biggest hit of the holidays, and it’s heartwarming to see that not a single fan is being left out. If you’re looking for one good reason to take your kids to see the movie this weekend, this is it: It turns out even Darth Vader has a heart.More On