To wrestling fans around the world WWE Superstar John Cena is known for being a 15-time world champion, but outside of the ring he is best known for his work with the Make-A-Wish Foundation. On Monday night Cena set the record for most celebrity wishes at 500, by making an 8-year-old boy from Maspeth’s dream come true.
Last week Cena surprised Rocco Lanzer, who was diagnosed with acute t-cell lymphoblastic leukemia in January, on the set of the “Today” show with tickets to “Monday Night Raw” at the Barclays Center and a championship belt.
“He was ecstatic. He was at a loss for words,” said Maria Lanzer, Rocco’s mother. “He was walking on cloud nine and still is. John Cena is his favorite. He enjoys everything about the WWE, but John Cena is his number one favorite.”
As part of his wish, Rocco played games with Cena at a party at a Dave & Buster’s restaurant and joined Cena in ringing the opening bell of the New York Stock Exchange on Friday.
“Mommy, I can’t believe I met John Cena and I played games with him at Dave & Busters,” Rocco told his mother.
Before Monday’s edition of “Raw,” Cena took Rocco backstage to meet several other WWE Superstars, get autographs and snap photos with some of his favorites.
“He got to meet a lot of the wrestlers. He got autographs and took pictures,” Lanzer said. “He got to walk down the entrance ramp with John Cena as his music was playing. After the show, John met with us outside of our limo and told Rocco to keep up the good spirits and to write to him. He shook his hand and gave him a hug.”
Cena’s motto of “never give up” is more than just a catchphrase; it has become a beacon of hope for children who are going through difficult times. Rocco has seen his share of tough times, receiving chemotherapy regularly three to four times a week, as well as blood transfusions when his blood counts become too low, Lanzer said.
“From the beginning I was telling him to never give up and he said, ‘That’s what John Cena says,” and I told him, “See, if John Cena says it you can’t give up,’” Lanzer recalled. “The motto fits for Rocco’s case. He is going through treatments like a champ.”
The Lanzers were very grateful to Cena for helping their child’s wish come true.
“Throughout his treatment and all the bumps in the road, it was great to see him smile. It lifted his spirts so much,” Lanzer said. “Meeting his hero and being there last night, seeing the smile on his face makes me and my husband so grateful for everyone who was involved with his wish. We were so happy and crying because he got to meet his idol and his role model.”
John Cena wore the loom bracelet Rocco made for him in ring, which added more to Rocco’s happiness that night, Lanzer added.
“His smile was from ear to ear all night,” she said. “John Cena has his heart in every wish he grants, which makes it more special. It was a chance of a lifetime and I would love to give a shoutout to Make-A-Wish and the WWE for granting his wish.”