The road to WrestleMania leads us in so many directions, but we have so many amazing things we get to do as WWE Superstars along the way. One of those special days happened this week at the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, where we met some pretty incredible kids.
This was my fourth visit to the UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. This hospital, in particular, is really special to the WWE family, as it’s where Connor’s Cure originated. Connor’s Cure is a fund started by WWE to raise money and awareness to support children with cancer. It was named after a little boy by the name of Connor Michalek. Connor was inspired to keep fighting by WWE Superstar Daniel Bryan and he inspired the entire WWE Universe around the world with his bravery and courage in his battle with cancer. It broke our hearts to lose Connor in 2014, but his memory and legacy live on today in a powerful way thanks to Connor’s Cure.
It was so cool to be able to bring my friends — fellow WWE Superstars Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins and Finn Balor — to visit the kids at the hospital. Kelsey, one of the patients there, jumped for joy when Seth walked into the room, and she was even wearing his shirt. I could see the light in her eyes when Seth hugged her and told her he wanted her to come to a live Monday Night Raw taping. We all signed a Championship Title for her and gave it to her as a memory of our visit and as a token that WWE always has her back.
I’ll never forget meeting Neveah that same day and having her tell us with excitement that she was finishing her last round of chemotherapy. She had a beautiful turquoise ukulele laying on her bed and asked us if she could play us a song. This amazing little girl who has been fighting the battle of her life had the biggest smile on her face and she was so excited to meet her hero, Roman Reigns. She played Ed Sheeran’s song “Perfect” on her ukulele for us, and she gently sang along as she played. We sang with her and I got goosebumps listening to the beautiful harmony radiating from this brave little girl.
Neveah’s mom told me that her daughter’s name is Heaven spelled backward. I’ll never forget that because she brought us so much joy in the time we spent. Finn Balor cracked a joke and said: “You definitely sing and play the ukulele way better than Elias ever could!” WWE Superstar Elias doesn’t need to know Finn said that! We all laughed.
It was so inspiring to be able to visit this hospital with Roman in particular. Roman has battled leukemia twice in his life — including very recently — and I’m proud to say he’s beaten it both times. It gave me a totally different perspective on giving back watching Roman meet these kids, hug them, high-five them, talk to them and bring them hope. He was so amazing with those kids.
I saw Roman in a different light in those moments. Roman was such a hero to many even before his second diagnosis. But now, here he was, just weeks after beating the disease himself, inspiring children around the world to have hope and to keep fighting. It was truly powerful and moving. We all need hope and hope is a good thing. Hope keeps us going. Roman offers us that hope.
The next time I feel like my day is tough or I’m tired or something small is irritating me, I know can draw from this experience and that visit with those kids at that hospital and remember how lucky I am and how blessed I am to be able to give back.
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