Luke Skywalker Grants Dying Boy's Wish
The Star Wars Saga's legendary bad-guy Darth Vader was right in saying, "The Force is strong with this one" when referring to Luke Skywalker in the original Star Wars film in 1977. Forty years later, Skywalker's iconic character has stayed relevant to fans worldwide. Actor Mark Hamill says he has embraced this legacy but was initially reluctant to come back to reprise the role after more than three decades.
However, during promos for 'The Force Awakens' in 2015, he found new meaning to his role in the multi-billion-dollar franchise. Hamill was kept from doing publicity in Episode 7, so he decided to use that time to visit children's hospitals instead. He recounts a story from one of his visits, "A doctor said there’s a boy paralyzed who can’t move for over a year and then noticed when the Star Wars toy commercial, his eyes went to the screen. He said we can’t explain that by science." He adds, "I just do this as my job. I’m meaningful to young people, that’s all I should do, and I try and work in as much of that kind of charity work as I can."
One of the kids Hamill reached out to was ten-year Old Eli Marfil, who received a video message from Luke Skywalker himself with the help of California-based charitable organization For The Win Project. Eli had been a fan of the lightsaber-fighting Jedi since he was six years old. His mom, Jan Marfil shares, "He’s into complicated stories parang for some reason natural sa kanya na intindihin yung story in the entirety of it so even mga backstory ng mga villains. So nagkaroon siya ng affinity for Star Wars." In November 2016, after being admitted to the hospital while battling a bout of fever, the young boy was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia, a severe type of blood cancer.
Hamill took time to find out Eli’s story. The actor shares that he was particularly impressed with the boy's big heart, as he learned that Eli had been sending his old toys to other kids with cancer at the Philippine children's medical center through the 501's legion, a group of Star Wars fans who dress up in villains’ costumes to do good. Hamill said in the video, "I couldn't believe the story they told me about what a great young man you are, struggling with your health issues and yet helping other kids that are facing that adversity. What an incredible thing to do. To me, you are the real hero. I play a hero but that’s just pretend. What you are doing makes you a hero in real life. I was going to call you Padawan but you are more than that, you are a Jedi. It's no surprise they call you mighty Eli."
Sadly, Eli passed away four days after receiving that message. However, his mother says the actor's effort meant so much to Eli. Her son even thought at that point that he was the luckiest kid with Cancer. Mom, ako na yata ang pinakaswerteng batang may cancer. So it was really a big impact na all those effort for him. Marfil is still grieving the loss of her son who passed away in March of 2017 but did not want to let the chance pass to thank Hamill for his touching message to Eli. She sent a message through Abs-Cbn news who was interviewing Hamill in Tokyo Japan for the promotion of his movie 'Star Wars: The last Jedi'.
Hamill was saddened by the news and expressed his sympathy to Eli's mom, adding that meeting remarkable people like Eli is one of the most rewarding but hardest things he has done. He says, "Oh boy seeing something like that, I’m so glad that I could’ve brought some semblance of happiness to Eli in his final days." Hamill adds that he tries to stay strong to help the children cope with their adversities. He says, "It’s really hard on me but in comparison to what they’re going through it’s well worth it. I use humor. You know, I see kids with tubes coming out of them and say ‘you don’t look that sick to me. Are you faking to get out of school?’ And they’re so surprised because people are more like ‘aw, poor you.’ My job is to make them laugh. I’m a clown. I’m a jester. I save my tears for the car ride home. "
Eli may not have won the battle against Cancer, but as Luke Skywalker says his battle to keep the good is what makes him a real Jedi.