R2D2 Visits Young Patients at EMMC

Joy Hollowell

Updated 4 years ago

His name is just two letters and a number. But R2D2 is one of the most recognizable robots around.That’s why folks at Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor are doing a double take these days.Joy Hollowell explains.=======”I am part of a club that builds these things,” explains Paul Bussiere. “One of the big pushes for (R2D2) was to bring it to the hospital to visit the kids.”Paul Bussiere says ever since R2D2 made his debut last Thanksgiving, the star of Star Wars has become quite the legend on the pediatric floor of Eastern Maine Medical Center.And…we’re not just talking about the kids.”The kids you understand how they’re going to respond,” says Bussiere It’s the adults that are my favorite. I’ve had people break down into tears. It’s like watching someone meet a movie star for the first time.””It brings a smile,” says Michele Nickerson. Her 12-year old son, Zack receives monthly treatments at Eastern Maine for leukemia. “They’re already bummed out because they’re going to be stuck in the hospital for the day. And so when they came in and said R2 was going to be here, Zack was pretty excited to see him,” she adds.R2, as he’s called for short, is the biggest project yet for Paul. And, nearly five years later, the technical guru still calls it a work in progress.”This guy has a little netbook inside,” says Bussiere. “And I wrote the software that has all his little sounds. There’s a servo card that controls all his little motors. And, as the kids make more suggestions and more ideas come across, I keep on adding more and more to the program.”11-year old Aaron Ricker is a patient on the pediatric floor of Eastern Maine Medical Center. He calls himself a Star Wars fan and says R2D2 is one of his favorites. He was fascinated by the model in front of him.”That’s just, I don’t know, it’s amazing to me,” says Ricker.”It’s just great to bring a smile to an otherwise not very smiley area of the hospital,” says Bussiere. “It’s just one of those things where, it’s like, WOW, you know, that’s really, really cool.”======Paul Bussiere says it took him about five years to build R2D2.He did had some help from Lucas Films themselves, with the understanding that he would only use R2D2 for charitable purposes.Bussiere is now working on a second R2D2, but this one will be a girl, complete with pink plating rather than blue.


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