In May 1997 just after the re-releases, I attended my first Star Wars convention, reuniting with my fellow actors for the first time in 18 years. The event was in Hackensack, New Jersey, just across the Hudson from New York City and the Twin Towers. In the nineties, I donated all my proceeds for children’s charities, and at the Hackensack show, I raised money for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, the non-profit that fulfills the wishes of children under 18 with life-threatening illnesses. At my table, the Make-A-Wish representative who would sit with me to handle the cash transactions through the weekend told me the convention had sponsored a dedicated young fan from Scappoose, Oregon, a bedroom community just northwest of Portland. He was there with his best friend, his brother, and his parents.
An 18-year-old Ben Fitzgerald arrived in front of my table driving his hot rod landspeeder: a high-tech, Swedish wheelchair. His third upgrade.