The campaign to somehow allow terminally ill Star Wars fan Neil Hanvey to see Gareth Edwards' Rogue One: A Star Wars Story succeeded, and just in time. In a post shared with friends, family members and Star Wars fans around the globe who helped spread the word on Hanvey's condition -- as well as his final request -- Neil's wife Andrea explained that the screening took place, and that Neil died shortly after the screening. She writes:
On behalf of all our family we would like to thank everyone who has passed on their condolences following Neil's death last night. We would also like to thank the tens of thousands of people who supported the #RogueOneWish campaign. All the messages of love during the past week have given us a great deal of comfort during a very difficult time. We would also like to thank everyone at St Michael's Hospice, especially Amy Duncan, without who #RogueOneWish would not have happened. All donations at Neil's funeral will go to the Hospice's Family Support team and will be used to fund work with children and young people. An online donation page will be set-up shortly.
A bit of backstory. Neil Hanvey, his wife Andrea, and the staff at St. Michael's Hospice launched a campaign using the hashtag #RogueOneWish to try and get Disney and Lucasfilm to show Hanvey the upcoming spinoff movie early. Social media jumped on board, and the viral campaign even reached Mark Hamill, who showed his support for making the screening happen. Well, it happened. On Saturday night, according to the following Facebook post, Neil Hanvey was able to screen Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Two days later, he was gone.
This isn't the first time the team behind the rejuvenated Star Wars franchise reached out on behalf of a terminally ill fan to grant a dying wish. You may recall that in the run up to Star Wars: The Force Awakens, J.J. Abrams moved mountains to answer the call of a similar social-media campaign for Star Wars fan Daniel Fleetwood to screen a rough cut of the movie. The hashtag #ForceForDaniel was used to spread the word on that campaign, and the internet responded in overwhelming fashion.
Stories like this show the deep compassion and camaraderie felt in the Star Wars community. But they also show how plugged in Kathleen Kennedy and her directors are to the people for which they are making these movies. It's a beautiful and compassionate story about fan respect, and one that I'm thrilled the Star Wars universe is able to share. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story opens in theaters on December 16, and after hearing stories like this, it makes me want to pay to see it multiple times, just as a way of saying thank you.