When Zev and Frani Esquenazi reached out to the "Star Wars" fans community for help with their baby's mysterious illness and mounting medical bills, they had no idea that Chewbacca and Darth Vader would answer the call.
Actors Peter Mayhew (who played Chewbacca) and David Prowse (who played Darth Vader), as well as hundreds in the "Star Wars" world, have helped to raise more than $17,000 so far on behalf of the family. Frani and Zev, well-known in the "Star Wars" community for their prop and costumes recreations, have had to scale back on their careers in the video game industry to care for their 4-month-old daughter Leah who has spent most of her life in and out of the hospital.
She suffers from a mysterious illness that produces seizure-like dystonic movements [VIDEO: beware, could be disturbing to some] throughout her body. The condition is so perplexing that a 40-doctor team has been assigned to study and care for her. When the HuffPost checked in with Leah and her family last week, she had just come out of a cataract surgery and a spinal tap (the sixth in her short life so far) at the Mattel Children's Hospital at UCLA.
The donations help the Esquenazi family, since neither parent can work while caring for Leah, but the family also wants to find a cure and raise awareness about Leah's condition. Frani explains, "Our hope is that more people know about it and are aware of the situation. There may be people whose child has something similar, or who know of a doctor who specializes in movement disorders, or something that can kind of give an idea about what is happening." Leah has also become a "little symbol," Frani explains, "for all kids who have undiagnosed diseases."
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