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Tom Hanks Becomes an NF Hero’s Hero

By August 29, 2012December 5th, 2023Awareness, NF1, Story of NF

On June 27, 2012, Mia Rashkind, an adorable five-year-old girl from Norfolk, Virginia who is battling neurofibromatosis (NF), had the opportunity to meet actor Tom Hanks on the set of his new movie Captain Phillips. Tom Hanks, as well as actors Max Martini and Yul Vazquez, took a break from filming to meet and spend time with Mia and her family.


Mia became an “NF Hero” at eight months old when she was diagnosed with neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1). Affecting one in every 3,000 people, NF can lead to blindness, bone abnormalities, cancer, deafness, disfigurement, and disabling pain. Mia has two brain tumors called optic gliomas, one on each optic nerve. Because her tumors are large, Mia’s doctors recommended chemotherapy. She had surgery to implant a port in her chest, through which the drugs would be administered, and endured more than 35 rounds of chemotherapy over the course of two years.


Recently, Mia was involved in a local event hosted by The Klumsey Moose Clothing Boutique honoring five special kids. Later Mia’s father Danny, who also lives with NF1, saw a posting on the boutique’s Facebook page about a customer being an extra in the Tom Hanks movie that was filming in the area. Danny decided to make some calls and see what he could arrange. After hearing her story, Mia was invited to meet Mr. Hanks on the set of Captain Phillips!


Because of unfavorable weather on the day the visit was scheduled, and the passing of Tom Hanks’ good friend Nora Ephron, the Rashkind’s weren’t sure if the meeting would actually take place, but they headed to Norfolk Naval Base, the location of the movie set, with high hopes.


They were first greeted by actor Yul Vazquez. Vazquez took an instant liking to Mia. Danny remarked, “He told me that it would mean a lot if I could send him a copy of thepicture that I took of the two of them. I told him it would be posted on Facebook later that night and he laughed and said he did not have a Facebook account.”

Shortly thereafter, the big moment occurred. Tom Hanks and director Paul Greengrass left the set to introduce themselves to Mia and her family. “Tom was super nice and shook our hands,” said Danny. Mia looked up at him and said, ‘You don’t look like Woody!’ Tom laughed, put his hand on Mia’s shoulder and said, ‘Mia, sometimes you have to close your eyes and imagine……’ at which point he began reciting lines from Toy Story, which left a huge smile on Mia’s face.”


Mia loves teaching people to pronounce the word neurofibromatosis. Before he left, she was able to teach Hanks by saying, “Neuro….. Fibro……Matosis…… see it’s easy, neurofibromatosis!”

“It was truly an amazing day that will never be forgotten. We have met some wonderful people during this journey and we know we will meet many more as this disorder will follow us through life,” says Danny.

The Children’s Tumor Foundation, on behalf of the millions of people worldwide who face NF every day, is appreciative of Tom Hanks and the cast of Captain Phillips for taking the time to meet with the Rashkinds and make an NF Hero smile.