Michael Mains, 12, center left, joins in a group hug with his parents, Lisa and Michael, sister Mary, 13, and brother Christopher, 9. The family recently returned from a trip to Disney World. Michael is battling neurofibromatosis, a genetic condition characterized by a high instance of tumors.
Darth Vader is no match for Michael Mains. The 12-year-old Sylvania boy battled the Star Wars villain lightsaber to lightsaber and won.
The young Jedi recalled how he was prepared for each move Darth Vader had in his bag of sword-fighting tricks. In the end, the Force was on Michael’s side.
Michael’s encounter with Vader, one that would make grown Star Wars fans jealous, was one of many with film characters he had only dreamt of meeting — dreams that came true in April.
Michael and his family went on a fantasy-filled Florida trip from March 29 through April 5 courtesy of the Make-A-Wish Foundation, which fulfills the dreams of seriously ill children.
“I didn’t know I was going to [Walt Disney World] until the girl showed up at our house,” he said.
Michael’s father, also named Michael, had called the foundation in August to tell them about his son and his wish to visit Disney World.
Mr. Mains said he learned a couple months after that call that Michael would receive his wish, but had to keep it under tight secrecy until the day Make-A-Wish representatives showed up at their door and surprised the boy with balloons, toys, and candy.
Michael was diagnosed with neurofibromatosis when he was about 6 months old, his mother Lisa said.
The genetic disease involves tumor growth that damages nerves and nearby tissue. There is no cure, although surgery can be performed to remove the tumors.
“It’s his life, and we have to figure out how to deal with it. But I tell him it is nothing to sit and be sad about,” Ms. Mains said.
Not a hint of sadness was on Michael’s face when he spoke about his time in Florida. He, his parents, brother Christopher, 9, and sister Mary, 13, were given the royal treatment during their vacation, which included three days at Disney World, two days at Universal Studios, and passes to other theme parks.
Two days before they left, a limousine service called specifically for young Michael to confirm his travel.
Once down south, the Mains family stayed at Give Kids the World Village in Kissimmee, Fla., where children reign and everything is taken care of — all the family had to do was unpack.
“It was cool … he and I went swimming and to the village, and walked to the ice-cream shop,” Mary said.
The pool, acting out scenes from Star Wars, and meeting Lightning McQueen from the animated film Cars, were the highlights of Michael’s trip.
He chose to visit Disney World to make new memories that would last.
“I couldn’t remember the last trip we took when I was 3,” he said.
Now the next big event on his calendar is Dec. 18, 2015, when Star Wars: Episode VII is released.