A dying child gets a visit from Luke Skywalker

The Last Jedi, the latest installment of the Star Wars series, comes out this week – and many fans are eagerly awaiting the return of that iconic character, Luke Skywalker.

But this movie isn’t the only reason Luke Skywalker has been in the news. A story recently went viral on Twitter that involved Mark Hamill (the actor who plays Luke) and Relevant Radio’s own Joe Sikorra.

Last week, Ed Solomon, a Hollywood screenwriter, tweeted:

Solomon’s tweets were so popular that Mark Hamill himself responded:

Joe Sikorra is the father of the child who was visited by ‘Luke Skywalker,’ and he recently stopped by The Drew Mariani Show™ to share the story from his point of view. He began by explaining that his two sons were born with juvenile Batten disease, a neurological degenerative disease that is fatal. Most children with Batten do not live past their early 20s.

Joe shared a bit about his son, John, who died two years ago of juvenile Batten disease. “My son passed away two years ago, and he was a huge Star Wars fan,” Joe said. “He watched one of the movies almost every day, and because he was visually impaired and had some other difficulties, his world was a little bit smaller in some respects. This was about 8 or 9 years ago, but one day he said, ‘Dad, can I meet Luke Skywalker?’ And I thought – well, that might be tough.”

But as a former actor and stunt man, Joe had some connection with Hollywood. “I reached out to the one guy who I thought maybe could get this done – my friend Ed Solomon.”

Hamill immediately agreed to meet with John, and they arranged for the visit to take place the very next day. “We showed up at this little park in Malibu, and up walks Luke Skywalker,” said Joe. “He just gave himself so graciously, answering question after question about galactic empires and everything else.”

This was an experience that touched the Sikorra family deeply, but they mostly kept it to themselves. Joe said that, “It was such a beautiful moment, but I didn’t really talk about it a lot. Even when this article came out yesterday in The Hollywood Reporter, my family said, ‘What? When did this happen?'”

Despite keeping this story under wraps for years, Joe is glad that it has spread in the last week, and that others can know of the good deed that Mark Hamill did for his family.

“He’s such a good man.” Joe said of Hamill. “And it’s so easy to focus on the negative, and what everybody is doing wrong. I thought it was beautiful that for a moment we could focus on something that was really good, that someone out of Hollywood is doing, out of their really generous heart.”

Joe has written a book, Defying Gravity: How Choosing Joy Lifted My Family from Death to Life about his family’s experiences with terminal illness. The book is currently available for pre-sale, and all proceeds will go to Beyond Batten, a non-profit that supports research to find a cure for Batten disease.

Listen to the full conversation between Joe Sikorra and Drew Mariani below:

The Drew Mariani Show can be heard weekdays from 3:00 – 6:00 p.m. Eastern/12:00 – 3:00 p.m. Pacific.
The Joe Sikorra Show can be heard weekdays from 10:00 – 11:00 p.m. Eastern/7:00 – 8:00 p.m. Pacific.

Stephanie Foley serves as a Digital Media Producer at Relevant Radio®. She is a graduate of Franciscan University of Steubenville, where she studied journalism, and she has worked in Catholic radio for 12 years. Stephanie is a wife, a mother of three boys, and in her free time she enjoys reading, running, and really good coffee. You can find more of Stephanie’s writing at relevantradio.com and on the free Relevant Radio mobile app.