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The following appeared August 14, 2009 in the

"The Wonder of WALL-E"

Published August 14, 2009

 By Dale King - CITY EDITOR

  As 4-year-old George Jacobs stared at the replica of the Wall-E robot at Rick Newman’s Boca Raton home last week, he was mesmerized.

    There, in front of his eyes, was the animated gadget he had seen on the movie screen – and fallen in love with.

    He probably didn’t even realize how close he came to not seeing Wall-E at all – after a long trip from Washington, N.J. to Orlando, then to West Palm Beach and Boca Raton.

    Newman, Boca’s wizard of robots, who has replicas of some famous mechanical men at his home - Robby the Robot from “Lost in Space” and the B9 Robot from the 1956 film, “Forbidden Planet,” among others – performed some magic for Make-A-Wish to bring twin boys from New Jersey together with Wall-E – and some of the other electronic gizmos in his home/laboratory.

    George Jacobs was born with a form of cancer called neuroblastoma, his parents, Pete and Betsy, said. At the age of 5 months, he had to have a large tumor removed from behind his liver. He has also had to have one kidney removed. Doctors think he is now in remission.

Visiting Wall-E

    Visiting with George and his parents was his twin brother, Thomas, who is autistic. But with Wall-E calling the shots, none of that mattered to the Jacobs family.

    Newman told the Boca Raton News he was able to get the family together with Wall-E and some of his other gizmos after they nearly went astray.

    A few months ago, the Make-A-Wish Foundation, which grants wishes of seriously ill children, asked George what he most wanted to do. “I want to see Wall-E,” he chimed.

    The family found Newman on the Internet. But the item was apparently out of date. It said that Robby and R9 were on display at the South Florida Science Museum in West Palm Beach. So the Jacobs decided to visit Orlando and make a side trip to the museum.

    “Apparently, the museum told them the robots were there, but they were not,” Newman said. “They were back in my garage.”

    So Newman got in touch with the Jacobs and told them, “I live about 20 minutes south of the museum. Come on over.”

    The robot master set up a show for the visitors, complete with Robby, R9, and a gaggle of other robotic creatures – and Wall-E in the lead.

A Blast

    “They had a blast,” said Newman, who gave George a small model Wall-E to take home along with a Wall-E comforter, sunglasses and dozens of other mementos. “I have four large boxes of things to ship up to them.

    Newman made the afternoon a true Wall-E festival with food and drink to go along with the robot visit.

    George got his wish that day. He spent the afternoon playing with Wall-E and his robot girlfriend, Eve. He also mingled with dozens of other robots of all shapes, sizes and power supplies.

    When asked which was his favorite, George’s responded the way everyone knew he would. “I like the Wall-E best.”

    The Jacobs family also visited Cape Canaveral and Disney World during the Florida adventure. But Wall-E, Newman said, stole the show.

    And the Jacobs let Newman know it. After returning home, they mailed two thank-you letters. One said: “Thank you so much for your unparalleled hospitality. George said after all of the travel that his favorite thing about the trip was seeing Wall-E… We are grateful to have had the pleasure of seeing such an extension of grace. Thank you again.”

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