A wheelchair definitely did not get in the way of this fighter's dream of becoming a TIE fighter pilot.
Matthew Tillyer, a bright and energetic 13-year-old from California, has been a wheelchair user since 2013 after battling pneumonia. But this did not stop him from living his life positively, pursuing his dreams, and enjoying everything he has with his family and friends.
In March 2015, Matt received the greatest surprise in his life. He was given a rare and amazing opportunity to be transformed into a TIE (Twin Ion Engines) fighter pilot. He became a fragile, fast Starfighter called into service by the Galactic Empire. Thanks to a Star Wars costuming organization, the 501st Legion members of the Imperial Navy.
To Matt, who has been a huge fan of Star Wars since he was just six years old, the transformation was totally overwhelming. Though it was his dream to be a fighter pilot, he did not expect it to come true so soon.
The legion members raised about $1,500 for Matt’s medical expenses as well as contributed for his armor and parts for his TIE fighter pilot costume. They worked on the surprise for nearly two months.
Matt’s dad, who has been very excited for his son’s Star Wars surprise, never thought that this long time wish will be coming true. He was overwhelmed of the people’s help and support to make young Matt’s dream become a reality.
On the day of the surprise, the family agreed to tell Matt to dress in black before they go to the park for a stroll. Little did the young fan know that the members of the Golden Gate Garrison and the Imperial Sands Garrison were already there waiting for him.
When Matt and his family arrived, the young lad thought there was just a 501st event but he then realized it was something else; it was something far more wonderful than he could ever think of. Matt wanted to scream out of excitement and joy but he could not say anything, especially when he was given a certificate that made him an honorary TIE fighter pilot.
Matt’s entire family was very thankful to the 501st legion members who made so much effort for the young boy. They, too, were incredibly amazed with the surprise even though they already knew about it.
As for Matt, he enjoyed the event so much. He was very grateful to all the people who made it possible. He had fun meeting new friends. His joy was simply uncontainable.