Friday, 24 February 2012

The Make-A-Wish Foundation, which grants thousands of wishes to children with life-threatening medical conditions every year, recently fulfilled perhaps one of their most unusual requests ever.
The wish came from seven-year-old Star Wars enthusiast Matthew Grammer who, in January 2009, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. His wish to the foundation? He wanted to be R2-D2.
Make-A-Wish contracted a local design company, Little Mountain Productions (LMP), to construct the drivable droid. LMP, up until this point, was perhaps best known for a previous project in which they fulfilled another Star Wars-themed wish: a Millennium Falcon tree house (bit.ly/zneJmA).
Tech specs 
LMP designed the R2-D2 to stand 6 feet tall. It was fabricated with a joystick and features oversized on/off buttons on the inside. It also comes with a large kill-it button on the outside for Matthew’s parents to disable the machine in an emergency.
The computer that operates the device is enclosed under the cushioned driver’s seat. It’s powered by two rechargeable batteries and guided by the company’s proprietary software.
Test drive
Judging by the video below, it’s pretty obvious that the team had a bit of fun testing the bot out.
One thing they noticed, though, was that the machine had a bit too much speed to it. They decided it might be best for Matthew (and his family) if the bot’s oversized torque electric motors were slowed down just a bit. After that minor adjustment was made, it was time for the presentation.
An extra special gift
Since both Matthew and his brother, Ethan, are huge Star Wars fans, the local community wanted to get in on the wish and help make the presentation a little more special. Students at Bishop Kelley High School dressed up as Star Wars characters, learned the film’s music, wrote a skit (all in a month’s time), and put on a performance for Matthew during their winter prep rally. The conclusion of the story saw Matthew get into the R2-D2 to defeat Darth Vader, Darth Maul, and a plethora of storm troopers, and save Han Solo and his team of Jedi warriors. 
As you can tell, it was a great day for Matthew. Some other good news: the young Star Wars fan has been responding well to his treatment. In fact, his family hopes that next month’s chemotherapy treatment will be his last.

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