Just when it seemed that Darth Vader would spell the end of Han Solo and a team of Jedi warriors, a 6-foot-tall R2D2 droid rolled onto the wooden gym floor at Bishop Kelley High School and defeated Vader as well as Darth Maul and several storm troopers.
Although the performance didn’t stick to the “Star Wars” story perfectly, 7-year-old Matthew Grammer didn’t care.
He was too busy driving R2D2 and saving the day during a skit put on by Bishop Kelley’s senior class during the private school’s winter homecoming pep rally Monday afternoon.
Matthew was diagnosed in January 2009 with ALL, or acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
The Make-A-Wish Foundation grants the wishes of children who have life-threatening medical conditions. And although many children wish for trips to Disney World, Matthew’s was a little more of a challenge.
Being the famous droid from the “Star Wars” franchise was what Matthew wished for about a year ago, and the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Oklahoma has worked since then to grant it.
“I could see it coming from him,” said Matthew’s mother, Tina Lynch. “He’s pretty unique.”
His family hopes that Matthew’s last chemotherapy treatment will be in March.
The Make-A-Wish Foundation of Oklahoma commissioned Little Mountain Productions of Tulsa to construct the driveable robot.
The prop and set design company also built another “Star Wars”-themed wish, a Millennium Falcon tree house, a few years ago, said Amy Ramsey, the foundation’s wish coordinator.
“It was absolutely incredible. It was so far beyond what I expected,” she said.
Lynch said she can’t imagine Matthew’s droid turning out any better.
“I’m overwhelmed, so I’m sure he is. It was pretty amazing,” she said. “He just jumped in it and took off driving in it like he’d done it before.”
Matthew and his oldest brother, Ethan, are both big “Star Wars” fans, so in addition to Matthew’s getting the larger-than-life-size R2D2, the students at Bishop Kelley also dressed up as “Star Wars” characters, learned music from the films’ scores and wrote and performed a “Star Wars” skit during the pep rally.
“We like to work with high schools because they get so excited,” Ramsey said. “They changed their whole homecoming theme to fit this wish. The kids – everyone was so enthusiastic.”
The school and the Senior Class Board had about a month to get the pep rally and skit organized as well as gather costumes, props and teach fellow classmates about the “Star Wars” world.
“There were a few experts,” said Kurt Byers, who played Darth Vader in the skit. “It was so much fun. It’s the funnest thing we’ve done at Kelley.”
Haley Poarch, who portrayed a storm trooper in the skit, said she was surprised by some of her peers who were fans of the movies.
“There were people who you would never think were into ‘Star Wars,’ ” she said.
Harrison Kane, who played Han Solo, is one of those fans.
“If I could do this every day, I would,” said Kane, who had a lot of fun with Matthew. “His enthusiasm was awesome.”
As someone whos best friend just passed away from Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, I know how much simple things help cancer patients. I thought this was a touching story and it is nice to know there are good people out in the world.
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