Daniel Fleetwood has become one with the force.
The Star Wars superfan died this week, just days after a social media campaign helped him get an early screening of Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
The 32-year-old was diagnosed in July with spindle cell sarcoma, a rare form of cancer that affects connective tissues. Doctors gave him two months to live.
“Judging by how progressive the disease has gotten in the past two months I really don’t think that I’ll be able to make it,” Fleetwood told Houston’s KPRC-TV, via CNN.
Fleetwood has been a huge fan of Star Wars since he was 8- or 9-years-old, a love affair his wife said started through Daniel’s father.
“His dad got him into Star Wars when he was eight or nine years old. He instantly fell in love with Star Wars and it just grew from there,” Ashley told NBC News.
That love affair continued as Fleetwood grew up. When the new Star Wars movies were released, Daniel camped out at the movie theater to make sure he was the first one to get a ticket. He had also been growing excited at the prospect of the newest movie, which will be the first since Disney acquired Lucasfilm.
But as Fleetwood continued fighting beyond the summer, he began to fight to see the release of the upcoming Star Wars movie, which is set for release in December. His wife, Ashley, mounted a campaign to call on Disney to allow him an advanced screening, and it gained the attention of Disney and Lucasfilm.
Soon, other Star Wars actors joined in supporting Daniel’s wish. Mark Hamill began advocating for him, and actress Daisy Ridley also sent out a message of support.
Many other fans joined in, helping the hashtag #ForceForDaniel to go viral.
Ashley said the campaign was a huge boost to Daniel, giving him hope during a time that was otherwise frightening and difficult.
“I can’t wrap my head around it,” Ashley told NBC News. “It’s kind of a good thing, because if there wasn’t this attention, I think I would have a lot more negativity and sadness. And this is at least providing us with something to still be hopeful for when there’s not much else to be hopeful for.”
Last week, Ashley shared the news that Disney and Lucasfilm had come through and granted his final wish.
“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 Danjel was getting his wish granted! We also would like to thank Lynne, Ben and Anahuac for coming to our home and screening the movie for Daniel. Lastly I want to thank ALL the amazing people who helped make this happen, thank you beyond words!!! May the force be with you all#forcefordaniel!!!!”
But even as he notched a victory in watching Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Daniel Fleetwood struggled with his health. Days before he got the private screening, Daniel suffered a malfunction in his oxygen tank that led to some scary moments, Ashley noted. The problem was fixed, but Ashley said it left them both exhausted.
After Daniel’s death on Monday, many fans reached out to leave messages of support for his family and thanks to Disney and Lucasfilm for arranging the private screening.
While Daniel Fleetwood achieved his final wish to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens, his family says there is still more to do. His wife had started a GoFundMe page to raise money for his high medical bills. To date, the campaign has raised close to $50,000 of the $100,000 goal.
[Image via Facebook / Ashley Fleetwood]