Run to Fight Children's Cancer: Valley boy uses ‘Star Wars' to battle cancer

PHOENIX - He's known by some as "Jedi Jack." A 6-year-old who loves a good light saber battle, but is also a little more "battle hardened" than you might expect. His family's story is one that you could argue seems "out of this world."

This weekend he is taking center stage at a race to raise money to save lives. The Run to Fight Children's Cancer is Saturday at Grand Canyon University. 

At the age of 4, Jack Welch was diagnosed with leukemia.

"I remember thinking 'it can't be my child,'" said his mother Beth. "Then I just thought, 'what are we going to do to fight?' I was mad, really."

They used "Star Wars" as a way of dealing with it, dubbing Jack's battle: "Jack Strikes Back."

"He always had an IV so we named it R2D2," said Beth.

It was during his treatments that came a fateful twist.

A short time before his diagnosis, his father, firefighter Keith Welch, signed up to be a bone marrow donor.

"Right after my son was diagnosed, you really understood the importance of doing that," he said. "It is rare to actually get picked to be a donor."

But that is exactly what happened.

A year ago, Keith was called to be a match for a patient in Germany.

"The patient was a 6-year old boy with leukemia," said Keith. "To be able to help a kid who is almost the exact same age as my son battling the same illness was hard to believe."

Just recently, the Welchs had contact with that family via Facebook. They learned the boy, like Jack, is also in remission and appears to be doing well.  

When they looked a little more, they found yet one more connection to "Jedi Jack."

"I saw all these pictures with 'Star Wars' characters," said Keith. "It blew my mind. They were using 'Star Wars' as their way of getting through it too."

Each year, 12,000 children will be diagnosed with cancer, yet childhood cancer is one of the most underfunded areas of research.

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