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The Star Wars franchise has numerous visual elements that make it instantly recognizable, but few quite as iconic as the visage of the white and black Stormtrooper helmet. It's an easy way to tell that you're watching a Star Wars movie, and it has become a signifier of the evil forces in the galaxy far, far away. That said, for 8-year-old boy battling a brain tumor, the Stormtrooper mask recently served as a symbol of hope as he wore one during treatment. Check out the heartwarming video, below.
That little boy's name is Evan, and his story is enough to get this writer all teary-eyed. As the clip shows us, he has to wear a white mesh mask to his 30-day proton therapy sessions, but the St. Louis Children's Hospital staff helped decorate the piece of medical equipment to make it look like a Stormtrooper mask from the Star Wars films, and they also hooked him up with a full costume, as well. Moreover, the hospital also enlisted the help of a pair of Stormtroopers to walk him to the procedure. For a young Star Wars fan, that's about as cool as cool can get.
The use of a mask like that doesn't just make a kid like Evan look cool as he goes into a much-needed medical treatment. As pointed out by Hannah, the child life specialist shown in the video, there are notable psychological benefits to allowing him to wear something like that as he goes into proton session. Instead of simply framing the mask as something necessary for the proton therapy, the decoration helps make it "fun" and allows someone in Evan's position to make a game out of the process while the doctors get to work helping to make him better.
Over the years, we have seen how pop culture icons and beloved franchises have helped the lives of people all over the world. Whether it's a kid like Evan getting to wear a unique Stormtrooper mask for his proton therapy, or someone like Iron Man actor Robert Downey Jr. bringing a bionic arm to a one-armed child, these philanthropic gestures give us a very palpable sense of how much some franchises or pieces of geek culture actually mean to certain people that need them.
We will have to keep an eye on the Star Wars galaxy to see what new icons show up to battle the Stormtroopers in future installments. With that in mind, make sure to watch out for this year's next Star Wars film when Solo: A Star Wars Story debuts in theaters on May 25. From there, Star Wars: Episode IX will round out the current trilogy when it debuts in theaters on December 20, 2019!