Diana Lee Inosanto Sally Melendez star wars enterprise academy of martial arts
Diana Lee Inosanto (right) poses for a photo with Sally Melendez, the mother of Rubi Melendez who is battling cancer. Inosanto was at Enterprise Academy of Martial Arts in Hollister on Oct. 29 for a fundraiser for Rubi. Photo: Erik Chalhoub
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Just days before her 5th birthday in August, Rubi Melendez of Hollister was diagnosed with T-cell lymphoblastic lymphoma.

That meant immediate treatments at Stanford Hospital, and the cancellation of Rubi’s police officer-themed birthday party.

When her mother Sally made the announcement over social media, word spread, and soon after, dozens of officers from 15 different agencies across the Bay Area, including the San Benito County Sheriff’s Office and Gilroy Police Department, flooded Rubi’s room at the hospital, offering her gifts, well-wishes and advice on what it takes to become a police officer, which is Rubi’s dream job.

“It was awesome, it was so cool,” Sally Melendez said.

The community spirit was again on full display Oct. 29, when Enterprise Academy of Martial Arts in Hollister opened its doors to a meet-and-greet fundraiser with actor Diana Lee Inosanto and more than 30 members of the 501st and Rebel Legions, a fan-based organization dedicated to wearing accurate replica costumes from Star Wars.

Fans young and old filed into the studio on Industrial Drive, taking part in a raffle and photo opportunities, with all proceeds supporting Rubi’s cancer treatments.

star wars enterprise academy of martial arts
Star Wars fans interact with Chewbacca and other characters during the fundraiser. Photo: Erik Chalhoub

“This is incredible,” Melendez said after she met Inosanto and watched the constant stream of people visit the studio to support the fundraiser. “Our community is absolutely amazing. It’s strong and supportive. They just persevere.”

Melendez said Rubi, who is currently in the hospital, had recently hit a rough patch. But she turned it around a couple of days ago, she said, and was smiling, eating and watching football with her father.

“She continues to take these hits, but keeps coming back stronger,” Melendez said.

Inosanto, a martial artist who is the goddaughter of actor Bruce Lee, starred in the recent Disney+ shows “Star Wars: Ahsoka” and “The Mandalorian,” portraying one of the main villains, Morgan Elsbeth.

Mark Preader, owner of Enterprise Academy of Martial Arts, said he was thankful Inosanto was able to visit Hollister and take part in the fundraiser.

“We have the ability as a martial arts community to help other people,” he said. “My students enjoy helping members of the community. Rubi is someone who is not only a fighter, she is brave and she is our hero.”

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Erik Chalhoub joined Weeklys as an editor in 2019. Prior to his current position, Chalhoub worked at The Pajaronian in Watsonville for seven years, serving as managing editor from 2014-2019.


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