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Daniel Fleetwood had already survived longer than doctors expected from his terminal cancer diagnosis. The lifelong Star Wars fan only had one thing he wanted before he passed away, to see The Force Awakens. He had said that the film was maybe the only reason he was still here. Today, we are saddened to learn that it may have been true. After being granted a private screening of the new film last week, we learned today that Daniel Fleetwood has passed away. He was 32.
It was barely more than a week ago when the campaign to get Fleetwood an early screening went viral. Fleetwood’s cancer, spindle cell sarcoma was advancing. Doctors had given him only two months to live, and that was back in July. Fleetwood’s one dream was to see The Force Awakens but he did not expect to live to the film’s premiere on December 18. This led to the hashtag #ForceforDaniel. It was an attempt to get the attention of Disney and Lucasfilm in order to arrange a screening of the film. First, they got the attention of actors like Mark Hamill and John Boyega, who both joined the call. Then, national media began to pick up on the story.
Last week, Fleetwood's wife announced via Facebook that they had received a call from J.J.Abrams himself to inform them that the wish had been granted. Last Thursday, Fleetwood watched an unedited version of the film in the comfort of his home. Today, she announced he has passed away.
To say that Disney and Lucasfilm went above and beyond on this one is an understatement. It was an incredibly charitable move for them to make these arrangements. For a movie that is trying to be as quiet as this one, even though that’s barely possible, it means a lot that they would be willing to make this exception. Star Wars fans are nothing if not passionate, and Fleetwood made many of us look downright casual with his love for the franchise. It’s good to see them giving back to the fans in this way. It obviously meant a lot to the Fleetwood family, but it also meant something to every other Star Wars fan out there.
Daniel Fleetwood’s struggle touched thousands of people, including most of us around here. While it is sad to hear of his passing, it makes the fact that he was able to enjoy the movie before he went that much sweeter. It gave Daniel and his family a wonderful time to spend together enjoying something they loved. Spare Daniel Fleetwood another thought when you go see The Force Awakens on December 18.