When people think of Arrow and Sarah, likely the story arc between the series star and Caity Lotz’s character comes to mind. Yet, the story about a young cancer survivor named Sarah is what shows that Stephen Amell is a real hero. Or, at least, the kind of person we want the actors who play our heroes to be. Of course, if one were to ask him, he’d say that Sarah is the real hero because at such a young age she fought an insidious disease that takes too many lives. Amell’s mother survived breast cancer, and they took a photo where the CW star flipped off the disease in the picture. He didn’t realize that there was a charity called “F-ck Cancer,” and they reached out to him. So he started a “Fight Cancer” campaign, because even though Oliver Queen murders people from time-to-time, Amell himself is fully family-friendly.
Using his platform to raise funds for cancer research might be reason enough to say that Stephen Amell is a real hero. However, that’s only where this story begins. In 2017 during the question-and-answer portion of the Arrow Comic-Con panel, Amell took a question from a young girl in full Green Arrow cosplay. That question moved him and became the first of many encounters between the young girl and her superhero favorite. While the show will come to an end next season, something tells us that Sarah and Stephen’s story will continue far beyond it.
Sarah and Stephen Meet at the Con
In 2017, then 12-year-old Sarah traveled from her home in High Desert eager to see the Green Arrow star. A huge fan, she even owns a life-size cutout of Amell in costume which watches over her in her bedroom at home. Doctors found a tumor behind her eye in 2015, and surgery wouldn’t be an option lest she lose her sight. She underwent 12 months of chemotherapy, which took a heavy toll on her young body. Still, because she wasn’t terminal, some heartless villains told her that she didn’t “deserve” the small reliefs of Make-A-Wish donations or any special recognition. Still, this brave little girl champions all cancer fighters, so she used her opportunity to ask her hero a question about his campaign to fight the disease. At Comic-Con, she asked Amell if he would renew his campaign for the cancer charity.
He could have simply said yes and moved on, but Stephen Amell is a real hero. Instead, he asked her name and if she planned on returning to the convention next year. When she said yes—it was her third trip to SDCC after all—he said that he wanted to give her something. He reached into his shirt and produced an arrowhead necklace his friend made him. He told her that he’d give it to her and she could bring it back to him next year. Then, he jumped down from the stage like a real superhero, put the necklace over her head, and whispered private words of encouragement to his fan. The moment went viral. Again, this seems like enough to justify that Stephen Amell is a real hero. Yet, this is just the first act.
The Only Thing Stephen Amell Stole from the Arrow Set
Fast forward to July 2018 and Arrow’s panel at that year’s Comic-Con. As per usual, they opened up the floor to fan questions, and Sarah was the first in line. Dressed in a green t-shirt, she introduced herself and reminded them who she was, as if they forgot. But, don’t forget, Stephen Amell is a real hero and real heroes don’t forget their sidekicks. Panel moderator Ralph Garmin didn’t immediately recognize her, but Amell and the cast did. The audience also remembered, breaking out into applause for her. Soft-spoken and clearly nervous, as 13-year-old fans tend to be when talking to their favorites, she said she brought Stephen his necklace back. Yet, Amell wasn’t done. “Okay, I’ll take it back,” he said, “but do you think you’re going to come next year?”
Sarah said she hoped to, if she could score tickets. Everyone laughed, and Amell quickly assured her she would get tickets, implying she’d come next year as his guest. “Sarah, stay right there, I have something for you,” he said. He went on to say that he only stole “one thing” from the Arrow set. And he brought it to the convention specifically for her. He stood from the dais and as an assistant brought the item onstage, the audience “ooh-ed” with surprise and a hint of good-natured envy. As he descended the stage to meet her in the audience, he carried with him the original bow his character used on the island that shaped Oliver Queen into the verdant marauder he became. Again, he whispered some private words of encouragement to her, and young Sarah did not know what to do with herself afterwards.
Saying Goodbye to Some Real Heroes
With the show ending this season, fans gathered to say goodbye to Arrow at this year’s panel. Naturally, Sarah kept her word and showed up ready to return the “stolen” bow. When she stepped up to the microphone after the emotional panel, real hero Stephen Amell smiled more brightly than Oliver Queen probably ever has. He told her that what’s special about this experience, for him, “starts and ends” with fans like her. After confirming she brought the bow back, he told her that, yet again, he brought her something. Vaulting down from the stage, he carried something hidden in a bag. Sarah made her way to the front of the crowded room and met her hero once again. Sarah returned the bow, but the gift she got in return is probably a lot cooler than that prop.
It’s difficult to see in the video, but you can hear the assembled crowd gasping as they realize what he gave her. Sarah gets, for keeps this time, the original season one Arrow jacket worn by the actor on the show. It hangs a little large on her slight frame right now, but this little hero will certainly grow into it. Sarah faced something that those who’ve not experienced it can’t truly understand. She survived, inspiring countless others like Amell inspired her. Turning to fantastic stories like Arrow is something that both provides escape from real-world fears and inspires all of us—like the mythic gods of old—to keep fighting in the face of incredible odds. Stephen Amell is a real hero because he recognizes this and went out of his way to make sure all the real-world heroes who love his show know it.
Stephen Amell is a Real Hero, So Is Sarah, and So Are You
Superhero stories, at their best, inspire their fans in ways other stories may not. Some people may think that these flights of fancy aren’t “good” because they teach their fans to wait around for some real hero to save them. Stephen Amell and Sarah are just one example of many how this couldn’t be more wrong. To be the star of a television show that lasted eight seasons and birthed a whole universe might give some actors cause to be a real jagoff. They might believe their own hype, seeing themselves like The Watchmen’s Rorshach, standing above everyone else. Instead, Stephen Amell is a real hero because he’s just the opposite. Humble, thankful, and kind, he serves as an example for others to remember that off-screen the smallest gestures make a real difference in people’s lives.
Sarah will likely never forget her three-year adventure with “Arrow” at Comic-Con. In the face of cruel judgment from small-hearted people, she rose above it to encourage her favorite hero to continue to fight cancer. This remarkable young woman used what could have been her only chance to speak to her favorite actor to ask him about the work he could do for other people. Just like a real hero would do. Amell rewarded that selflessness with compassion and generosity, making both of them an inspiration to us all. We don’t have to beat cancer like Sarah did, nor do we have to be the star of an international hit series to make a difference. We can look to stories like this and pay forward that spirit of compassion and caring for others to make this whole world a better place.
Thank you, Sarah for your bravery. And thank you, Stephen Amell, for showing all your fans how to be a real hero.
Featured image via Facebook
Joshua M. Patton is a father, veteran, and writer living in Pittsburgh, PA. The first books he read on his own were comics, and he's loved the medium ever since. He is the greatest star-pilot in the galaxy, a cunning warrior, and a good friend. His book "What I Learned: Stories, Essays, and More" is available in print from Amazon and from all electronic booksellers.