With the tightly protected veil of secrecy surrounding Star Wars: The Force Awakens, almost no one got to see it early. It only screened a few days early for press, including big critics organizations, and only members of the Lucasfilm/Disney extended family were privy before that. There was one notable exception: Daniel Fleetwood. A lifelong Star Wars fan, Fleetwood was battling an aggressive form of cancer and wasn’t likely to live until the release date. J.J. Abrams and company were moved by his story and showed him a rough cut just days before he passed away. Peter Mayhew, who reprised his role of Chewbacca in The Force Awakens, took things one step further, inviting Fleetwood’s widow and her family to spend Christmas with him and his family.

The 7’2" actor, who plays the fan favorite wookiee in the Star Wars saga, and his wife Angie, invited Ashley Fleetwood and members of her family to spend a day at their farm near Fort Worth, Texas, over the holiday. Ashley told Entertainment Tonight:
The Mayhews were so kind and gracious. When Daniel was sick, they actually Skyped him. It was so sweet and amazing. They invited us to visit, but he was unable to travel. After he passed, they extended the invitation again. So I asked if, for my dad’s 60th birthday, if we could maybe visit. They said 'yes' and were so welcoming.

The Mayhews were equally as excited by the visit, taking to their Facebook page to share pictures of the gathering, which also included members of the 501st Legion, a group of fans that specialize in intricate replica costumes and doing good community work, who helped facilitate the visit.

We were delighted to have Ashley Fleetwood and her family out to the farm to visit and see the Chewie Museum. Thank you to the troops from The Star Garrison of the 501st Legion for coming out and supporting us!

Posted by Peter-Angie Mayhew on Tuesday, December 29, 2015


Daniel and Ashley Fleetwood made news a few months back when the social media campaign they started, #ForceForDaniel, went viral, even catching the attention of members of The Force Awakens’ cast like Mark Hamill and John Boyega. He was diagnosed with a terminal case of a cancer called Spindle Cell Carcinoma and wasn’t expected to make it to the December 18 release date. Daniel’s story touched thousands of people, and Lucasfilm and Disney went above and beyond, showing him an unedited version of the film what turned out to be just a few days before his death at just 32 years old.

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