On 24 November 2019, what started out as a simple patient/nurse conversation about a Boba Fett, Star Wars character tattoo, revealed a mutual love of all things Star Wars, and led to the granting of a very special wish.
Our patient shared his long-held love for Star Wars and the joy it had brought him to pass this on to his young son. But he also told of his sadness that he would not live to see the final episode “The Rise of Skywalker”, thus concluding the nine-part Star Wars epic, first launched in 1977 with Episode IV: A New Hope.
Moved by his sadness, and with the final movie not due for global release until 19 December 2019, the nurses passed this information to the Marketing and Fundraising Team on 25 November who took up the challenge and swiftly mounted a campaign to see if the Hospice could secure an advance viewing of the final movie. Sadly, time was not on our side.
A Star Wars quote on Twitter “this is our most desperate hour” at 9.03am on 26 November kicked off our plea for help to get our request to the right people at Disney. We knew we were gathering momentum when Luke Skywalker himself (actor Mark Hamill), Warwick Davis and other stars got behind the campaign. It also saw Rowans Hospice thrust overnight into the media spotlight across all social media and press platforms on a truly global scale!
Suddenly, as our quest went viral, Rowans Hospice found itself at the centre of frenzied attention as media agencies, TV and radio companies, national and international press, all grappled to pick up the story and help us realise our patient’s final wish. With a secret tip-off that our campaign had indeed reached the right desks at Disney, we crossed our fingers and held our breath in a new hope.
At 7.27pm GMT on Thursday 28 November 2019, Thanksgiving and an official public holiday in the USA, Bob Iger, CEO at Disney Corp tweeted, “On this Thanksgiving we at @Disney are grateful to be able to share #TheRiseOfSkywalker with a patient and his family @RowansHospice. May the force be with you and with us all”.
We had done it! With the help of wonderful friends and supporters of the Hospice, and a whole heap of generous people worldwide who had never even heard of our small Hospice in Hampshire, everyone had climbed aboard our campaign. A global reach extending far beyond our wildest expectations had realised a patient’s final wish using the positive power of social media and all manner of other media channels. They said this challenge would be impossible, but in the words of Han Solo, we said “never tell me the odds”. The force was truly with us!
For all those wondering how it finally happened, we can now reveal the movie was transferred overnight on Wednesday 27 November from the US to London. Remembering that they were 5 hours behind London GMT, and they were fast approaching Thanksgiving, some very generous people at Disney US donated their evening and into the night to kick-start the transfer process to the UK.
On the morning of Friday 29 November, Jonathan, a very nice man from Disney UK sporting his Star Wars t-shirt, arrived at Rowans Hospice with a plain black laptop containing a very special top-secret movie for our patient and his young family.
Here at Rowans Hospice, words simply cannot express the thanks we would like to share to everyone who got behind our campaign – from friends, supporters, stars and complete strangers, to the global press agencies, and everyone else in between who reached out to their contacts. YOU were the spark that made this happen.
Finally, not forgetting everyone at Disney Corp in the US and the UK, you made a little boy’s wish made in 1977 come true, some forty-two years later as a dying man. May the force be with you, always.