A dying 'Star Wars' fanatic was given the ultimate gift thanks to J.J. Abrams.
Daniel Fleetwood has been a "Star Wars" fan as long as he can remember.
He grew up watching the films with his father, adorned the walls of his bedroom with posters, collected all the action figures, and regularly cosplayed as members from both the light and dark sides of the force when that time of year rolled around (and often when it didn't), according to a recent article in The Washington Post. He's done everything short of bull's-eyeing a womp rat with his T-16.
Daniel met his future wife, Ashley, during his senior year of college. She had never even seen a “Star Wars" movie at the time. But when faced with his unwavering fanaticism, she was soon seduced into the lore of the franchise and became a fan for life, the Post reported.
Daniel and Ashley got married in 2010, and their love of the epic space saga continued to blossom alongside their love for each other.
Sadly, Daniel was diagnosed in 2012 with spindle cell sarcoma, a rare form of tissue cancer.
When surgery failed to cure him, the cancer soon spread to his lungs. In September, he was told he had two months to live.
The diagnosis was devastating for the obvious reasons — no one wants to be torn away from their loved ones. Ashley knew there were just plain old life things that Daniel would miss, too. In particular, the highly anticipated seventh chapter in the "Star Wars" franchise, "The Force Awakens," is set to be released on Dec. 18.
If the doctor's timeline was correct, Daniel wouldn't be with her that long.
So Ashley launched an online effort to fulfill Daniel's dying wish to see an early screening of "The Force Awakens," rallying support with the hashtag #ForceforDaniel.
The campaign gained steam over the course of a week or so. Then Ashley received extraordinary news.
Daniel's wish would be granted, complete with a phone call from “Force" director J.J. Abrams.
Ashley wrote about the moment on her Facebook page on Nov. 5:
"To all our wonderful supporters, friends, family and awesome strangers: Daniel's final dream was just granted!!! Today the wonderful Disney and Lucasfilms made his final dream come true, in the amazing typical Disney way, they really do make dreams come true!
Daniel just finished watching an unedited version of Star Wars: The Force Awakens!!! We would like to thank the awesomely talented JJ Abrams for calling us yesterday to tell us Daniel was getting his wish granted!"
The outpouring of support for Daniel in the time since has been overwhelming, to say the least.
The couple's GoFundMe page to support Daniel's exhaustive medical bills has already received over $40,000 in donations, and Ashley's phone has been “ringing off the hook" with press requests to spread their incredible story.
“I feel a weight has been lifted for me by knowing he got his final wish," she wrote on Facebook.
“I want to thank ALL the amazing people who helped make this happen, thank you beyond words!!! May the force be with you all!!"
This isn't the first time Abrams has made such a heartwarming gesture. Two years ago, he granted a terminally ill "Star Trek" fan the opportunity to see an early edit of “Star Trek: Into Darkness" just days before he passed away. Likewise, Pixar studios sent a DVD copy of “Up" to 10-year-old Colby Curtin to fulfill her dying wish.
Daniel exceeded his doctor's expectations and continued to fight the good fight with each passing day.
He's been made an honorary Jedi Knight by a “Star Wars" fan club and received a gift that most fans could only dream of. It's safe to say that the force is definitely strong with him — and also with the good people who helped make his dream come true.
Update: After a fight with an aggressive form of cancer, Daniel Fleetwood has passed away, his wife Ashley announced on Nov. 10. In a Facebook post accompanied by a selfie, she wrote about her final moments with her husband.
"Daniel put up an amazing fight to the very end. He is now one with God and with the force. He passed in his sleep and in peace. He will always be my idol and my hero. Please hug uncle Marc for me and give Lucy lots of kisses. Rest in peace my love. This was the last selfie we ever took together. #forcefordaniel"