Hollywood stars make visit to local teen


Film stars Gwyneth Paltrow, Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Evans made a surprise visit to El Cajon on Monday morning to support a local teen battling cancer.

The three stars came down from Hollywood to see 18-year-old Marvel Comics superfan Ryan Wilcox, a junior at Grossmont High who has been isolated at home for several months as he undergoes chemotherapy, blood and marrow transfusions, and other treatments in his fight against leukemia.

The actors — who star together in the “Avengers” film series, part of the popular Marvel Cinematic Universe — visited Ryan for about an hour Monday at his family’s Fletcher Hills home, after flying into nearby Gillespie Field.

“I was so surprised, I was like, ‘WHAT?!’ when I saw them,” Ryan said. “I told them how much I liked them, and their movies. They asked me which one was my favorite… They are so awesome. This was overwhelming. It was great.”

The trio came bearing Marvel gifts, signed Ryan’s bedroom wall, talked with him about movies and posed for photographs, said the teen’s mom, Amy Wilcox. Paltrow took several photos during the visit and put them on her Instagram feed.

Ryan’s favorite superhero is Captain America, who is depicted by Evans in the Marvel films, including the current blockbuster “Captain America: Civil War.”

Wilcox said she and her husband, Mike, knew about the visit, but Ryan had no idea. The couple also has three daughters who were there for the surprise.

She said Paltrow recorded Ryan’s reaction when he answered the door and then sent her the cellphone video as a keepsake.

“It was so nice of them to take time out from their (lives) to do this,” Wilcox said. “Gwyneth gave me the biggest hug, saying it was from one mom to another.”

Earlier this month, Evans made a personal video thanking Ryan for supporting the Marvel films, and encouraging the teen in his battle against cancer. The actor had heard about Ryan’s health struggles through various social media and outreach from Grossmont High administrators.

That video was also a surprise and was played for Ryan during a lunchtime rally at the campus earlier this month, with several thousand people in attendance.

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