#Forcefordaniel, the Twitter campaign for 32-year-old Daniel Fleetwood of Houston, Texas, to see The Force Awakens early due to his terminal illness has proven to be a resounding success. Following on from the initial reaction to his story and his wife Ashley’s enduring endearing mission to get him his dying wish, it didn’t take long for the story to go viral and gain support from a number of famous followers including a few actors from the Saga who showed their support via social media, namely Mark Hamill, John Boyega, and Peter Mayhew.
When you’ve got the backing of Luke Skywalker himself, it almost seems inevitable that something good is going to come from this. Sure enough, the hashtag caught the interest of the right people and Daniel’s wish was granted by Disney, with J.J. Abrams calling him personally to let him know he’ll be watching a special screening of an unedited Episode VII. Ashley posted on her Facebook page on November 5th with the news “Daniel just finished watching an unedited version of Star Wars: The Force Awakens!!!”
Shortly afterwards, Mark Hamill re-tweeted the post along with his happiness for the campaign
Daniel is a devoted fan of Star Wars, and his story is as touching as it is triumphant. He was tragically diagnosed with a rare form of connective tissue cancer called spindle cell sarcoma this year, and his oncologist gave him only two months to live back in July which he battled through like a Jedi Master. But his declining health has given him concern that he may not make it to December for the release of The Force Awakens. He has talked previously about his health issues and why he is so devoted to Star Wars. In an interview with his local news station KPRC he talked of his illness:
"“Judging by how progressive the disease has gotten in the past two months, I really don’t think that I’ll be able to make it…Please do what you can to help me”"
And again with People magazine his unwavering love of all things Star Wars:
"“If I got to see the movie, I might actually die from happiness…Growing up, I would watch the movies over and over and analyse every little detail. I hope I get to see what happens.”"
This isn’t the first time a movement like this has happened, as Abrams granted the same to Star Trek fan and terminal patient Daniel Craft to see Star Trek Into Darkness five months before it’s release. He sadly died days after viewing the movie, but it will be a moment his family and the world will never forget. We are all reminded of the movie Fanboys when reading this story, and whereas this was made real by social media support rather than breaking and entering of the Skywalker Ranch, it still holds true to the way that we all feel about these films and how online petitions can be used to help those in need. Disney really stepped up to the plate as well with their willingness and generosity for Daniel’s cause, and the online response to their support shows how much of a Force for good this campaign has been.
Well done to Daniel and Ashley Fleetwood, the Force will be with both of you always.