May the Force Be With You

Boy with rare illness is greeted with a surprise

Breanna Murphy, Staff Reporter

At Gerald R. Ford International Airport in Grand Rapids,  ten-year-old Bo Velarde-Chan from Kalamazoo, Michigan got his surprise from Star Wars characters before boarding his flight to Florida.

Velarde-Chan was born with an extremely rare and life threatening illness called Microvillus Inclusion Disease.

“When Bo was born, the doctors told us he wouldn’t live past his first year of life,” said mother Kinn Chan de Velarde.

Velarde-Chan’s disease makes his intestines not work properly, causing him to have all his hydration and nutrition pumped directly into his heart through a port.

Make-A-Wish Michigan heard about Velarde-Chan’s condition and decided they wanted to give him a wish. Through donations, they were able to send the family on an all-expenses-paid vacation a Disney Cruise. Wanting to do more, Make-A-Wish had the family arrive to the airport in a limousine where they were greeted by Grand Valley State University students holding Star Wars quoted signs. Before the family boarded their flight to Florida, Tara Hernandez, director of marketing for the airport, made an important announcement. “Attention Southwest Airlines passengers, here at Gerald R. Ford International Airport, we have a very special traveler here with us today. Can we have a round of applause for Bo?” Said Hernandez. Over the passengers applause she continues to say “We have a special arrival, the Star Wars Transporter has just landed in Grand Rapids.”

As soon as that was started, came out eight costumed Star Wars characters.

Having such an incredible surprise, Velarde-Chana spent up to thirty minutes with the characters, and even participated in lightsaber battles.