John Cena is not just the champion of the squared circle. The athlete is also a champ when it comes to making kids’ wishes come true.
“We would like to thank John Cena for his commitment to Make-A-Wish, and congratulate him on being the first celebrity to grant 400 wishes!” the foundation wrote on its website this week. Make-A-Wish also noted that Cena’s 300th wish came in June of 2013. The foundation helps grant wishes to children with life-threatening illnesses.
Mark, 9 years old, met Cena with his family before a World Wrestling Entertainment event at Los Angeles’ Staples Center. The meeting marked the 400th wish granted, more than anyone in the charity’s history. According to the WWE’s website, Cena is Make-A-Wish’s most requested celebrity wish granted.
“I think it boils down to the fact that John connects with children in a really special way,” Josh deBerge, a spokesperson for Make-A-Wish, told us regarding Cena’s popularity. “I think that (the kids) have seen not only how he performs in the ring but they’ve seen the great things he’s done outside the ring.”
The WWE superstar first won the world championship in 2005, and since has been the face of the company. In addition to his 14 reigns as both WWE and world champion, Cena has also starred in movies “The Marine,” “12 Rounds,” and “Legendary.”
But it is his “never give up” in-ring persona that seems to draw fans, and those in need of a lift, to Cena.
“Every time somebody challenges him, he never backs down,” said Alan, a 16 year-old who is one of many that has had the chance to meet Cena. Inspired by the wrestler’s disposition, Alan willed his Hodgkin’s Lymphoma diagnosis to remission in three months.
Another child, 12 year-old Sterling, suffers from a heart condition and lost his home in a hurricane. Make-A-Wish sent him on a VIP trip to WrestleMania, where he met Cena and other WWE stars.
“I know whatever he must deal with that he has hope for the future – because he has a dream and a vision now,” Sterling’s mom April told the charity.
“He is one of the kindest people I’ve ever met,” deBerge said. “I think the thing that can’t be forgotten, in the 400 wishes that John has granted, is that John realizes the impact of a wish come true. It’s not just a moment for these kids, but it’s something they can look forward and something they can reflect on afterwards.”
Cena granted the 400 wishes while battling through a list of injuries, from the mundane struggles that come with 300 day-a-year travel schedules to the more serious conditions like muscle tears and neck injuries. deBerge said that despite Cena’s schedule, his international travels have never prohibited him from granting a wish.
The 36 year-old received Make-A-Wish’s Chris Greicius Celebrity Award in 2009. Cena has worked with the organization for almost 10 years. He is one of only six celebrities who have granted more than 200 wishes; no one else has granted over 300.