A terminally ill veteran who's a devout Star Wars fan received a special surprise from strangers in his final hours.
On Thursday night, a group of people dressed up as Star Wars characters and visited Dave Ledum at his home. Dave's wife, Karla, said that he has always been a fan of Star Wars, especially when it came to Chewbacca.
He has memorabilia, photos, and other collectible items that fills a room in his home.
Dave served in the United States Air Force for 20 years as a pilot. During his time in the military, he got the nickname "Chewie."
"He was a co-pilot. His very first airplane was a B-52 and he got into the airplane and the pilot looked at him and said, ‘Oh my gosh, I feel like Han Solo and you're like Chewbacca!’ And that name stuck," Karla Ledum described.
After Dave retired, he worked several different jobs and finally landed a position as a pilot with United Airlines. But several months into the job, he was diagnosed with glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer that often cannot be cured.
"They told us a year to 15 months, and that was July of 2016. So, he's lived a little bit longer than what they thought," Karla noted.
But Dave's health rapidly declined right after Christmas. Vanessa Kerr, Karla's former co-worker at an elementary school, had an idea to surprise him. She and Karla decided to get Star Wars characters to visit him.
"A couple of them I know, a few of them reached out and gathered for me. So it was a chain," Vanessa said.
The group got ready at a home a few streets down from the Ledum's, then marched down the street to the home. Karla said he's often confused and tired but, that evening, he was alert and sitting in a chair. One by one, each Star Wars character filled the living room and shook Dave's hand.
"I asked him, like some people are coming over to talk to you. I told him hospice people, which these may be the best hospice people we've ever had," Karla said. "I just feel so much gratitude and love for theses strangers, just giving their time and willing to help someone."
Dave spoke briefly on camera and thanked the group. The family told KENS 5 that a few hours after everyone left, he suffered a seizure. The family said paramedics performed CPR for 30 minutes and gave him five shots of adrenaline but they were unable to resuscitate Dave.
One of Dave's daughters said in an e-mail:
"His last few hours were very joyful, spent with his family and with a fun surprise which he greatly enjoyed. He is no longer in pain and he is in heaven looking down on us."
Dave is survived by his wife and five daughters.