Dying Star Wars ultra-fan gets final wish

The Force Awakens opens in theaters on December 18th, but Star Wars fan Daniel Fleetwood just didn't have that kind of time.

Suffering from a terminal and uncommon form of cancer, and with only a few months left to live, Fleetwood and his wife focused on getting Lucasfilm and Disney to allow Daniel to see The Force Awakens just a little early. With Star Wars stars Mark Hamill, Peter Mayhew, and John Boyega all getting behind the #ForceForDaniel hashtag, Disney was able to make that wish a reality. Director JJ Abrams called Daniel Fleetwood personally to let him know that his dying wish had been granted. Fleetwood passed away Tuesday, just days after viewing the film, and after hanging on for a month longer than anyone expected.

Fleetwood spent his final days in hospice care at home, in a bedroom festooned with Stormtrooper helmets, C-3PO dolls, action figures, and all kinds of Star Wars paraphernalia. In an interview with CNN, Daniel's wife Ashley explained why all of this was important to a dying man:

"Even if it's just a movie, that's magic for a lot of people."

Many people accuse fans of Star Wars of being fixated on escapist fantasy without knowing exactly what those fans are escaping. Fleetwood had more to escape than most, and the #ForceForDaniel phenomenon showed a positive side to both nerd-dom and social media, which both have a tendency to become caustic and angry when rubbed the wrong way. Upon hearing of Daniel's passing, fans of both Star Wars and Daniel are Photoshopping the man into the final scene of Return of the Jedi, hanging out with the Force ghosts of Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda, and maybe realizing that a life spent passionately has more rewards than a life spent with cynicism. Sure, that's counter to Jedi teachings, but we're also not full of midichlorians. We're mostly full of Burger King.

May the Force be with you, Daniel.

[Source: CNN]