Dawn Garrigus of Statesboro, Georgia, is an 11-year-old with mitochondrial disease, a progressive chronic illness that causes physical, mental and developmental disabilities. She is also a devoted Star Trek fan.
Through the Make-A-Wish foundation, Dawn requested to attend Dragon Con, a sci-fi and fantasy convention in Georgia, where the popular series would make an appearance. Word got around to Patrick Stewart, who was set to attend the convention, that a Make-A-Wish child (and huge Star Trek lover) would be attending, according to a representative from the organization. The actor, who played Captain Picard in the series, surprised the Trekkie with a personal meet and greet at the convention on Sept. 1.
Dawn told The Huffington Post in an email;
“I was shy at first, not sure what to say or talk about, but he kept talking to me. I felt like I was on the Enterprise talking to the captain. And suddenly, I was OK,”
While Dawn’s parents told the Trekkie in August that she would be attending the convention, Dawn did not find out that she would be meeting Stewart until moments before the encounter.
“I was soooo excited … I could not believe it,” Dawn, who went to Dragon Con dressed as Captain Spock, wrote of her reaction to finding out she would be meeting the star.
Her parents, Danny and Kristy Garrigus, wrote in an email that it was “the happiest [they] had seen her in quite some time.”
Dawn and Stewart were able to talk about several different subjects, however a stand-out moment was when the legendary actor told her that they are now pals.
“He told me that since we were friends, when I saw him on video that I could wave and say, ‘Hello Patrick.
It has been almost two weeks since their meeting, and Dawn’s parents say it has already had an effect on their daughter’s life.
“We have seen a very positive response,” they told HuffPost.
“Her illness can be very depressing and leaves her feeling separated and causes her difficulty to relate to other kids her age. Her brief visit with Sir Patrick has alleviated that feeling which we cannot begin to express gratitude for.”
The Garriguses say that Stewart’s kindness has left a profound impression on their daughter, and for that, they have a special message for the actor:
“You have made a mark on her and our life that will never be forgotten!”
From the Co-ordinator who granted this wish.
“Hi! I’m actually the wish coordinator who granted this wish and got to be there for their meeting! It was pretty spectacular and he couldn’t have been any better. She was just the happiest kid and when she said she was honored to meet him, he said how honored he was to meet her. He even gave her a shout out in his panel and that girl had an ear to ear grin. …
It was definitely a moment that reminds me why I love my job. If you’re interested, donating to your local Make-a-Wish chapter is such a huge help. Just go to wish.org and find your local chapter. Also I love Patrick Stewart even more now than I thought possible!”
Sources: Reddit – Huff Post – Make a Wish – James Barker (Photographer)