From the Walt Disney World News and written by: Guest Blog
Mark Hamill Says Meeting Terminally Ill Children Is a Responsibility He Doesn’t Take Lightly
Mark Hamill has opened up about how it’s harrowing to meet with terminally ill fans, but it’s also a responsibility as a celebrity with such great fame.
Mark Hamill’s great success as a Star Wars fan favorite has brought the actor international fame, and along with that comes a “responsibility” to be there for the fans who need him most. As the Star Wars movies have been consistently popular with fans of all ages since the very first one was released in 1977, he’s remained one of the world’s most beloved actors for more than four decades. His role as Luke Skywalker has made him be seen as a hero on the screen, and fans will know that he embodies that word behind the scenes as well.
Because so many young kids look up to Mark Hamill, he has made efforts to brighten the lives of countless children over the years. This includes consistently volunteering to meet with terminally ill children, which can often be “harrowing” on his end. On Twitter, one fan of Hamill’s recalled an experience his young son Elijah had during his final days when Hamill joined other Star Wars alum in wishing him a happy birthday. The joy Hamill brought to Elijah during such a difficult time will always be cherished by the family.
“As my son Elijah was dying of pediatric brain cancer in 2017, @HamillHimself contributed to a birthday video Lucasfilm put together where several Star Wars actors wished him happy birthday for his ninth birthday (April 22). Here is Elijah watching Mark Hamill. He died the next day,” wrote Brad Simpson, including a photo of his son beaming while watching Hamill’s personal birthday message.
In a response tweet, Hamill wrote: “One look at Elijah’s beautiful face is all you need to know about why I’ve visited countless patients in children’s hospitals over the years. Emotionally harrowing to be sure, but I consider it both a privilege & a gift I’ve been given – a responsibility I’ll never take lightly.”
Other stories relating to Hamill’s goodwill have been circulating for years. Another famous story occurred in 1998, when screenwriter Ed Solomon’s friend, Joe Sikorra’s son John was dying of juvenile Batten’s Disease. The devastating illness that impacts the childrens’ vision and cognitive motor function, and most victims typically die in their late teens or early 20s. Solomon contacted Hamill’s agent at the time with a simple request for a meeting, which the actor promptly agreed to.
“I had never met Mark, but I called his agent and asked if this could happen,” Solomon said of the situation, per THR. “Mark’s agent said, ‘Please don’t say anything to the boy because I don’t want to get his hopes up.’ And then, literally less than two minutes later, Mark calls and said, ‘I would love to. How about tomorrow?’ I started bawling.”
The next day, Hamill met with the boy and his brother, who had the same diagnosis, along with their father Sikorra. Because of John’s state of mind, he had trouble differentiating Hamill and Luke Skywalker. For his part, Hamill went right along with it to make the experience as magical as possible for John.
“Mark spoke to John simply and directly and with utter dignity,” Solomon said. “John would ask the same question three times in a row, and Mark would answer the same way every single time.” Sikorra added: “Mark was just super patient and kind. It was one of those beautiful experiences. It is very humbling, this disease. You have got to let go of your normal expectations for you and your kids and family. In the midst of struggle and tragedy, it was those points of connection that makes you feel loved and less isolated. Mark was very kind, ‘no rush, my time is your time.’”
On his Twitter account, Hamill also recently celebrated the posthumous induction of his friend and Star Wars co-star Carrie Fisher into the Hollywood Walk of Fame Class of 2022. Along with congratulating all of the honorees, he offered “much love” to the “incomparable, hilarious & irreverent force of nature that was my space sis Carrie Fisher.” Hamill’s star was previously announced in 2018 and it’s fitting that the two will both be named on the famous walkway together. You can see more of his tweets by following Mark Hamill on Twitter.