My toy lightsaber has been in the backseat of my truck for more than a few weeks. I have been slowly purging unwanted items since the summer. Some things are thrown away, but a few things are earmarked for donation. The lightsaber was in great condition, but it was only a toy. I never used it. I have two really nice lightsabers I use for events. I didn't want or need a cheap third.
I was dressing and gathering my gear to go hand out toys at the Children's Museum celebrating RVA Different Abilities Day / International Day of Persons with Disabilities, an event organized by Project: Just Like You. I needed to clean up my "good" lightsaber but didn't have time to go buy the solvent. I was also concerned about bringing my "nice" lightsaber to an event with hundreds of children. I was sure everyone would want to touch it, and it was irreplaceable. How could the Jolly Jedi hand out presents without a lightsaber in hand?
As I was putting the toys in the backseat, I saw my discarded lightsaber. It was perfect! It was a toy, after all. It probably cost less that $20, and if it got broken, it wouldn't matter. That was the solution. I popped in some new batteries and was off!
Jedi and Sith set aside their differences for this special event as I met up with Melanie & Wayne Ellyson (aka Santa Jawa and Darth Vader).
This event started out like many. We walked around, posed for pictures with the kids (and parents!), and handed out toys. Everyone was playing and there was a lot of noise. It was easy to forget that most of the families were there because they wanted to celebrate RVA Different Abilities Day / International Day of Persons with Disabilities.
Jacob saw me and my lightsaber early in the evening. I know Jacob, but he doesn't know me. I know Jacob was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. It was his birthday. He walked up to Darth Vader and Vader offered him a high-five. Jacob patted Vader's black-gloved hand gently. Then Jacob eyed my lightsaber. He pointed at it, and tried to say something, but his mouthful of popcorn got in his way. Jacob wandered away for a bit.
As Jacob returned, he was clearly intent on learning about the lightsaber. I crouched down. He looked at it, and then me, and said, "On." I turned the lightsaber on. A blue light lit up the blade as we heard the familiar snap-hiss-hum noise. "Off." I turned off the lightsaber. "On." This time the blade was red. We repeated that sequence for a few minutes. Jacob watched my movements and started to press the power button himself.
Blue. Off. Red. Off. Repeat.
Oh, my aching knees. I needed to sit down. We probably turned that lightsaber on and off for 10, or maybe even 15 minutes. The outside world faded away. It was just Jacob and me, focused on the lightsaber. This is the reason why I dress up like a Jedi. I can share my love of Star Wars. I look at Jacob's smiling face and saw the joy he experienced wielding the saber. I have the same joy. I am just like you.
It was the best 15 minutes of my week.
And to think, that lightsaber was in the trash pile, unwanted. What a blessing it turned out to be to have it and to be able to help out for this event.
I am keeping the lightsaber for next time.
May the Force Be With You, Jacob!
If you have a chance, check out Project: Just Like You's launch video. Share it and Like it, please. Do you have a story to share? You can email Projectjustlikeyou@gmail.com.