CEDAR FALLS, Iowa --- Some visitors from a galaxy far, far away brightened a young cancer patient’s day.
Jacob Flesher, a 7-year-old Manchester boy with a love of all things “Star Wars,” was treated to the time of his life Saturday during an event centered on the movie series at The Core Comics and Games in Cedar Falls.
A personal meeting with Jeremy Bulloch, the actor who played Boba Fett in “The Empire Strikes Back” and “Return of the Jedi,” was followed by a visit from a costumed gang of Mandalorian Mercs. They were all planning dinner together later in the day.
The boy decked out in a “Star Wars” shirt and cap said little, but his bright eyes and broad smile couldn’t mask his excitement.
“This is probably the biggest thing that could happen to him, and he’s been to Disneyland and flew on a plane,” said his father, Ben Flesher. “He started out liking army guys, but he switched to ‘Star Wars’ — I think it was the camouflage trooper —and it took off like wildfire.”
It was also a welcome distraction from the chemotherapy, radiation, a stem cell transplant and kidney removal Jacob has undergone since being diagnosed with Stage IV anaplastic Wilms tumor in December of 2010. Doctors at the University of Iowa say the disease is terminal and have put Jacob under hospice care.
The Core owner Mike Blanchard met Jacob during a free comic book day after a store employee who had survived cancer pointed him out.
“He’s a big Star Wars fan and a nice little boy,” Blanchard said. “Within a minute, I was deciding he gets a special meeting with Jeremy. It was the right thing to do.”
Bulloch, a British actor, was happy to meet with Jacob during his visit from London.
“It’s amazing what ‘Star Wars’ has done for kids who are seriously ill,” Bulloch said. “The look on their faces. It lifts them up.”
Before The Core opened to the public, Bulloch gave Jacob some English biscuits, bought him a Boba Fett helmet — which he autographed “to Jacob Fett” — and toured the store telling stories about the movies’ filming.
“The costume was really hot,” Bulloch told Jacob in a soft voice. “But being the bravest bounty hunter in the universe I was OK.”
The Mercs, a group of men from across the Midwest who show up in costumes, also posed for photos with Jacob and brought him gifts, including his own freshly painted helmet. “Any scratches or dents you put on it will be your story,” one told him.
“This is a dream come true for this little boy who loves all things Star Wars,” said Mary Potter Kenyon, Jacob’s grandmother and a former Cedar Falls resident. “He made me watch ‘Star Wars’ this week so I’d know who Boba Fett was.”
Kenyon said Jacob’s upcoming birthday party will be a family get-together at a cabin, with a “Star Wars” theme.
“We don’t use the word ‘terminal,’” Kenyon said. “Jacob is the epitome of a little boy living with cancer every day, not dying of cancer.”
Family have set up a Facebook page for Jacob and https://www.facebook.com/pages/Jacobs-Ladder/183700018319939.