A Vermont family received a special sendoff for their Walt Disney World vacation, thanks to Make-A-Wish Vermont and a group of dedicated "Star Wars" fans.
“When she walked in, the look on her face was just sheer astonishment,” James Stewart said of his stepdaughter, Chloe, who was surprised Friday with a visit from R2-D2, Chewbacca, Rey and a group of storm troopers.
Chloe has Rett Syndrome, a rare neurological disorder that causes a wide range of severe impairments.
Mom Allison Roark, of Colchester, tells NECN & NBC 10 Boston her 11-year-old just loves "Star Wars," and lights up whenever she sees her favorite heroes.
Make-a-Wish Vermont turned to the local chapter of the 501st Legion, a fan group, to help send Chloe’s family off to Disney World and its Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge land on their Wish trip.
“We had people come from as far away as Rhode Island to make this happen,” noted Jamie Hathaway, the president and CEO of Make-A-Wish Vermont. “That’s the magic of Make-A-Wish. And part of that is telling a family they’re not alone, or telling a child they’re not alone.”
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“We don’t have to worry about anything, and we can just focus on having fun together and doing something big for Chloe,” Roark said of the family’s trip to Disney, facilitated by their Make-A-Wish Vermont wish grantors.
She may be nonverbal, but Chloe’s expressions alone were enough to melt the icy shells of even the toughest storm troopers, who gave hugs to the excited middle schooler.
“That’s the power of Chloe right there—just disarming sunshine,” Stewart said of the way the 'Star Wars' characters interacted with Chloe.
Quinten Lewis, of the 501st Legion Green Mountain Squad, said the organization enjoys supporting Make-A-Wish with its ultra-realistic costumed members.
“The line we always use is, ‘It’s good we’re wearing helmets,’ because you definitely get misty-eyed,” Lewis said. “When we see the kids’ reaction, it means so much to us.”
Chloe’s family called the care from their community “magical.” The burdens they bear in the form of many medical appointments and other needs were made a bit lighter, thanks to a wish granted.