One of the biggest dreams a child can have is meeting their heroes. Youngster Sarah would doubtless attest to that, as she spoke to TV star Stephen Amell at the San Diego Comic-Con in 2017. And after she told Amell that she was fighting cancer, the actor made Sarah a deal and handed over a special gift.
A resident of High Desert, California, Sarah was a frequent visitor at the annual Comic-Con event in San Diego. Each summer, fans from across the world are given the chance to meet their big-screen heroes while also enjoying exclusive first looks at future releases. In 2017, though, Sarah had her eye on one panel in particular.
Like a lot of people at Comic-Con, Sarah was cosplaying as one of her favorite characters. In this case, she was dressed up as the Green Arrow, a DC Comics character who’s grown in popularity in recent years thanks to actor Stephen Amell.
In October 2012 Arrow premiered on The CW network, with Amell starring as the titular hero Oliver Queen. Since then, the show has amassed a large and loyal following, kicking off its seventh season in October 2018. Due to its popularity, The CW has also greenlit a number of spin-offs, meaning that Arrow is now part of a sprawling, interconnected TV universe.
Despite all that work, though, Amell still found time to join a campaign that was close to his heart in 2012. “My mom was going through chemotherapy in April of 2012, and she and I just took a photo outside of a bar in Toronto when I was visiting,” he told The Hollywood Reporter in September 2014.
“I was just giving the middle finger to the camera – representing ‘f*** cancer,’” Amell continued. “At the time, I didn’t know there was a charity called F*** Cancer. They got in touch via Twitter, and we’ve been working together ever since.” Moreover, following that conversation, the actor also joined a website called Represent, where famous faces can crowd-fund their own merchandise.
With that in mind, Amell started to appear in campaigns for the charity, as well as producing his own shirts with the slogan “F*** Cancer” via Represent. As the actor’s merchandise continued to grow in popularity, Leo Seigal, one of the co-founders of the crowd-funding website, hailed the actor’s attitude towards his fans and followers.
“[Amell’s] communication with his fans is extremely authentic,” Seigal told The Hollywood Reporter. “He replies to their comments, he shares their memes and speaks to them as though he is speaking to fans personally. I think it makes them rally around him.”
On that note, Amell reflected upon the campaign’s success, highlighting the support he’s received from all around the planet. “It’s really cool, some of the places the shirts have been ordered,” he said. “I’m anticipating being on vacation and seeing someone along a beach wearing a F*** Cancer shirt.”
In the summer of 2017, though, the actor came face-to-face with one of those individuals a little closer to home. And the incident was captured on film, with the footage subsequently being uploaded to YouTube. While sitting on the Arrow panel at Comic-Con, Amell was greeted by a little girl dressed just like him. With a microphone in front of her, she then asked him an important question.
“My name is Sarah, and my question is for Stephen Amell,” the girl tells the panel. “Since I am a fighter of cancer, I was wondering if you were going to make more fight cancer shirts, and if so, when?” That particular query draws a warm round of applause from the fans before Amell makes his response.
The pair then engage in a conversation, with Amell learning that Sarah is a frequent visitor at Comic-Con. “I am going to do another campaign,” he tells her, before asking a question of his own. “Are you going to come next year?” the actor says, with Sarah responding, “I think so.”
“OK, I tell you what,” Amell continues. “If you come back to this panel next year, I’m going to give you something. And a year from now, you can give it back to me.” At that point, he takes off an Arrow necklace and summons Sarah to the stage, handing over the gift with a hug and a kiss.
Following the event, Amell took to Twitter and posted the message: “See you next year Sarah.” A little while later, the actor then received a heartwarming response. “This is Sarah’s stepdad,” wrote user Keeleon Ohms. “She will take good care of your necklace and return it next year! Thank you for making this the best [Comic-Con] ever!”
In the summer of 2018 the cast of Arrow returned to Comic-Con to promote the show’s new season, with Amell front and center again. And as the panel started to wind down, Sarah kept her word and brought the necklace back. At that point, the actor posed a similar question to the one that he’d asked her the previous year.
“Do you think that you’re going to come next year?” Amell tentatively asks in the resulting footage, with Sarah responding, “Hopefully, if we get tickets!” With that in mind, the actor then makes his move. “Sarah, stay right there,” he tells her. “I have something for you.”
“Can I take back the necklace?” Amell continues. “I’ve got something for you. I’ve only ever stolen one thing [from the show]. OK, one second.” At that point, the star leaves his seat and grabs one of the bows from the Arrow set, before heading down to Sarah in the crowd.
With cameras focused on them, Amell embraces Sarah and shares a quiet word in her ear, before they eventually swap the gifts. After that, the actor returns to the stage to a huge round of applause from the fans in attendance. And much like the previous year, he then took to social media to detail what had happened.
Indeed, Amell shared one a photo of himself and Sarah on Instagram, touching upon the quiet words that he’d whispered in her ear. “Occasionally, it’s more fun to keep things a secret,” he wrote in the accompanying post in July 2018.
Since then, Amell’s post has earned more than 300,000 likes on Instagram, while also generating hundreds of comments from viewers. In Arrow, Oliver Queen is a hero with an edge. On the other side of the screen, though, his real-life counterpart is a hero with a heart of gold.