Child cancer survivor granted ‘Star Wars’ wish through kindness of strangers

A young "Star Wars" fan who survived cancer is getting his delayed Make-A-Wish dream. (KKTV)
Published: Jul. 14, 2023 at 3:03 PM CDT
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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV/Gray News) - Eleven-year-old Peter Perrin loves his brothers, splashing around in the water and playing outside.

And you’ll never meet a bigger “Star Wars” fan!

“He loves to role-play a lot. I say he could be a professional LARPer,” said Peter’s mom, Lara Perrin. “He will break into character, and you can’t get him out of it!”

But Peter’s been forced to battle a foe far, far greater than the Galactic Empire: acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

Peter was diagnosed at 8 years old in 2019. In an odd twist, Lara Perrin said his diagnosis came on her brother’s birthday – her brother who also battled cancer as a child.

“My brother made it though, and he was able to be there to support Peter,” she said.

While patients with acute lymphoblastic leukemia often have a better outlook than patients diagnosed with other cancers – “If you’re going to have leukemia, that’s one of the better ones to have!” Lara said – it was still a frightening time for the family.

“We were hoping along the lines that it wouldn’t turn out that way for him (turn out to be terminal), and praise God, glory to God, he is not,” Lara Perrin said.

Peter took on cancer with heroism and bravery that would impress a Jedi. He defeated surgery, he defeated chemo. He proved every inch a fighter and survivor as Luke, Leia, and his current fave, Obi-Wan Kenobi.

“(Doctors) have a great prognosis and great outcome for him, and we are very blessed and grateful,” his mom said.

Every Obi-Wan needs a Luke Skywalker. For Peter, his Skywalker was his family, by his side every step of the way – prayer warriors, his medical team, and Make-A-Wish Colorado, which selected him as a wish kid.

“I didn’t know that Make-A-Wish was not just for terminal,” Lara Perrin said.

Naturally, the world’s biggest “Star Wars” fan wished for a real-life “Star Wars” experience. But this is where he faced another obstacle: This was all happening around the time COVID-19 hit, and Make-A-Wish was forced to temporarily suspend wishes.

But that delay would end up being a positive development for Peter.

In the last year, Make-A-Wish resumed granting wishes. Around this time, Colorado Springs spinal surgeon Dr. Douglas Crowther learned about Peter and was so touched by his bravery, he wanted to help make Peter’s wish come true.

He in turn teamed up with medical device supplier Spinal Elements, which has a program specifically dedicated to donating to charities such as Make-A-Wish.

“We see this as an opportunity to be able to give back, not only so the recipient can benefit but also society,” said Gabe Gamboa, marketing manager for Spinal Elements.

Since 2012, Spinal Elements has donated over $2 million through their partnership with doctors, “and we will continue to do this across the country,” Gamboa said.

Spinal Elements’ “Hero Program” was launched in 2012 “to show our support for the selfless act of tissue donation,” according to its website.

Their collaboration is now making it possible for Peter’s wish to come true.

This week, Make-A-Wish threw Peter a celebration in honor of his upcoming trip to Disney World – made possible in large part by Crowther and Spinal Elements’ collaboration.

Crowther and Gamboa attended the send-off bash at a Red Robin to present a $10,000 check to Peter and his family.

“We are just truly happy to be here, to be a small part of Peter’s wish, to help make his wish come true,” Gamboa said.

“I think he’s going to have a great time at Disney World with all the ‘Star Wars’ characters and probably get to march with some Jedis and do some lightsaber fights,” Crowther said. “He’ll probably go through some Jedi training. I’m sure he’ll come back ready for action.”

The family leaves in the next couple of weeks. Lara Perrin said she’s been catching Peter up on all of the Disney movies not set in the “Star Wars” universe, to prepare.

“I know not everybody has that opportunity, but that’s why we want to express our gratitude and remember each day to be thankful and thank (God),” she said.

She said the COVID delay also worked out for another reason – now Peter is tall enough to go on all the rides.

So, it’s not a galaxy far, far away – but it’s pretty close!