Chick-fil-A Workers Have Lightsaber Duel With Boy in Wheelchair When He's Excluded by Other Kids
"It happens to all kids, we've all experienced it. It's a little harder when you have a kid with special needs," said the boy's mom Kari Merriken.
A Georgia boy with spinal muscular atrophy may have been excluded from a lightsaber showdown with other kids, but he got "A New Hope" in the form of kind-hearted Chick-fil-A employees.
Two workers at the chicken chain saved the day when they offered to duel the 8-year-old instead.
Read: Girl, 14, With Spinal Muscular Atrophy Decides to End Her Life: 'This Is Enough Pain'
The owner of the Columbus Chick-fil-A, Alex Vann, told InsideEdition.com that every few months, their store hosts themed nights for the community. Last Friday, the store hosted "Galaxy Night," inviting families to enjoy a night of face painting, lightsaber duels, and fun.
Kari Merriken told InsideEdition.com she was watching her son Caleb participate in the activities when she noticed him approach a group of boys to play, and was asked to leave.
"When my son asked some boys in the play area if he could join them, the response was, 'No, we're good,'" she wrote on her Facebook.
Instead, little Caleb asked his mom to play.
"As a mom, it breaks your heart," she said. "So I dove over there to get one of the lightsabers."
As she asked a volunteer at the event for a lightsaber, she explained what happened before getting ready to play with her son.
"The next thing I know, out comes Darth Vader," Merriken said. "They said something like, 'We heard you can't find any worthy opponents,' and they started battling with him."
"[I was] just trying to make a good experience for everybody," said Derek Rains, the man pictured on the left of the photo that has since gone viral. "I grabbed my lightsaber and played around with him, and let him defeat us. He's a sweet kid."
Vann said, "I'm super proud of our team for being aware there are folks that do have some needs. We can really bring a remarkable experience for somebody."
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The duel only lasted only 5 or 10 minutes, Merriken said the gesture was enough to brighten the rest of her son's day.
"It happens to all kids, we've all experienced it. It's a little harder when you have a kid with special needs," she said. "It could have been a bad experience [but] I remember him telling somebody after the event, 'I battled Darth Vader and my Jedi instructor.'"
August is Spinal Muscular Awareness month. To find out more about the disease, visit www.curesma.org.
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