I hope you all had a happy Thanksgiving! If you are an international fan, reading this outside of the US, I hope you had a wonderful and relaxing weekend. Here in the US, we like to eat turkey on Thanksgiving, and, in my case, lots of desserts. However, my baking did not turn out so well this past weekend: I took my brownies out of the oven to see if they were done, and when I decided to put them back in for a few more minutes…the pan flew out of my hands and onto the floor!
Oh well, we still had plenty of food to go around and lots of laughs at my butter-fingers! My two little kids were very hungry and had a great time too…
I’m sure you can tell that things are very formal in the Eckstein household…hehe. But I digress…
This past weekend, I had a chance to reflect on how grateful I am for YOU, the Star Wars fans! I have been a part of this community now for almost seven years, publicly for five, and you have truly changed my life. Whether or not you accept my character, Ahsoka Tano, you all have embraced me and my family personally, and I can’t thank you enough for your continued support.
I’d like to share with you one person in particular that I am thankful for this holiday season, because a short time ago, we almost lost her. It was Labor Day weekend 2010 and I was working my Her Universe booth at Dragon*Con in Atlanta, GA, when a girl in a wheelchair quietly came up to me to introduce herself. Her name was Erin Kelahan and at that moment, I knew there was something very special about this girl. We loved a lot of the same things — Star Wars, Alice in Wonderland — and we bonded over our similar geeky interests. Erin blew me away with the fact that she has read every single Star Wars book ever written! I even did an interview with her because I was so impressed with this accomplishment!
I kept in touch with Erin online and at Dragon*Con the past couple years, and as I learned more about Erin’s story, I was beyond inspired. Erin has Osteogenesis Imperfecta, which means she has extremely fragile bones. She has dealt with surgeries, wheelchairs, and limitations her whole life. However, I can honestly say that one of the most positive people I have ever met is Erin Kelahan. When I asked her to tell me about her disability, she proudly told me her story and did not ever want my sympathy or pity. In fact, Erin’s story was a message of hope, overcoming the odds, and reaching for the stars. Within five minutes of talking to Erin, you realize that her personality is bigger than any physical impairment one may see. She is a dynamo and the Force is STRONG with this girl.
This fall, I was informed that Erin and her friend were in a very serious car accident. Another driver came into their lane and hit them head on. Both girls survived, but this accident was nearly fatal. Erin was spared any head or internal injuries, but was left with 22 bone fractures (her pelvis, both legs, foot, wrist, ribs, sternum, and clavicle) and needed months of recovery and physical therapy. After several surgeries and weeks in the hospital, Erin is now at home and going through rigorous, daily physical therapy to regain her independence.
I wanted to share Erin’s story with you because if there is one thing we know how to do as a community, it’s to rally around someone when they are in need. We know how to lift someone up and give them hope! I ask that you help me send the Force to Erin. She is strong and I know that she WILL get through this, but we can make it a lot easier for her with our well wishes and inspiration. You can find out more about Erin’s story through her Give Forward page or you can follow Erin on Twitter at @seashell_girl, and message her directly.
So, that’s what I was thinking about this weekend. I am SO thankful to have Erin Kelahan here with us and I am SO thankful for all of YOU! I feel very blessed to be a part of this special family!
May The Force Be With You!
Ashley Eckstein is the voice of Ahsoka Tano on Star Wars: The Clone Wars and also the founder of Her Universe, the first merchandise line made exclusively for female Star Wars fans! You can follow Ashley on Facebook and Twitter.