Back on October 19, 2013, R2 and I participated in a Make-A-Wish event for young Benton, in which he attained the rank of Jedi Padawan. If you haven't already seen that blog entry, check it out here.
Tonight, Benton found out his journey to become a Jedi Knight was not yet complete.
This was a big surprise for Benton and his family. While Benton thought that the previous event was the end of his training, tonight he was to attempt to complete his training and become a full Jedi Knight, at Make-A-Wish's Gala Fundraiser at the Balboa Bay Resort, in Newport Beach, CA. Along with hundreds of benefactors, top-ranking representatives of Disney and Make-A-Wish were also in attendance.
In addition to the good-guy characters present at Benton's Padawan training, we were to be joined by Darth Vader and some Stormtroopers. The characters gathered into a room where they were able to change into costume, as Rob Estrada and our Make-A-Wish organizer Sarah went over the agenda.
Around 8:15pm we made our way from the changing room to the hallway outside the ballroom where the Gala Fundraiser was taking place.
We were joined by a somewhat puzzled Benton and his brother, who were asked to put on their Jedi outfits. Why would they need those?
Vader and the Stormtroopers interrupted the event and took it over. Who would save the day?
A couple minutes later, R2 and the other good guy characters entered the ballroom with Benton and his brother, to confront Vader and his henchmen.
Individual battles took place between Jedi and Sith over several minutes to the dramatic musical score, which provided a perfect match to the fighing.
Finally, Vader stepped in for a final confrontation. The Jedi were unable to stop Vader by themselves. They called upon Benton, and they gave a combined Force-push that Benton had been practicing to ultimately defeat Vader.
Benton had done it! He had become an official Jedi Knight.
Benton took the stage to be awarded the rank of Jedi, in front of the hundreds of applauding and cheering people in attendance. It was a huge, huge success and a great moment for everyone. (Unfortunately, between operating R2 and having to duck low, I didn't get a clear picture.)
Once we were done in the ballroom, we retreated back to the hallway, where of course we were all stopped for pictures, especially Benton.
They also had a photobooth (although R2 was too short for it!), where Make-A-Wish organizer Sarah and her husband had some fun with Vader and a Stormtrooper.
Meanwhile an auction was going on in the ballroom, and they raised over $50,000!! After the auction, the band started playing, and most of the characters returned to the room for a little dancing. R2 loves to dance.
It was a great night, and I was very happy to be involved in such a worthwhile cause. Congratulations and best of luck Benton!