published Saturday, June 16th, 2012

Chattanooga VW workers root for health of 'mini-Vader' after surgery

Max Page, who stars in a recent Volkswagen commercial, stands on the stage during opening ceremonies for the Volkswagen plant. He recently had heart surgery and is recovering.
Max Page, who stars in a recent Volkswagen commercial, stands on the stage during opening ceremonies for the Volkswagen plant. He recently had heart surgery and is recovering.
Photo by Angela Lewis.

Hundreds of workers at Volkswagen's Chattanooga plant are rooting for the recovery of the mini-Darth Vader who starred in a 2011 Passat commercial and underwent heart surgery this week.

The factory employees signed a banner for 7-year-old Max Page, said Guenther Scherelis, general manager of communication for VW's operations in the city. Also, a video was produced wishing him well, he said.

"Both we sent him before his surgery," Scherelis said in an email.

Page, who played a mini-Vader in the 2011 Super Bowl ad for VW's Chattanooga-made Passat, underwent successful surgery to replace his pulmonary valve at Children's Hospital Los Angeles, according to NBC.

Hospital spokesman Lorenzo Benet said Page was expected to remain hospitalized until early next week. The recovery time for the operation is about six to eight weeks, he told NBC.

Page's mother, Jennifer Page, who was in Chattanooga in May 2011 when her son replayed his Vader role at the plant's grand opening, said it was nerve-wracking, but the surgery apparently went "extremely well."

At the plant dedication, the young actor dressed in "Star Wars" garb and utilized "the Force" to help company officials press a button and open a large wall, showing off the inside of the plant and a large group of applauding VW workers.

The Super Bowl commercial had received over 42 million YouTube views, said Mark Gillies of VW of America. AdWeek named the commercial as its best for 2011.

about Mike Pare...

Mike Pare, the deputy Business editor at the Chattanooga Times Free Press, has worked at the paper for 27 years. In addition to editing, Mike also writes Business stories and covers Volkswagen, economic development and manufacturing in Chattanooga and the surrounding area. In the past he also has covered higher education. Mike, a native of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., received a bachelor’s degree in communications from Florida Atlantic University. he worked at the Rome News-Tribune before ...

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