Professional wrestling superstar John Cena was on Thursday’s “Today” show to surprise 8-year-old Rocco Lanzer with the granting of his Make-A-Wish request, an event that will include ringside seats to Monday night’s post-SummerSlam episode of “Raw” as well as gifts and a party. As significant as the occurrence was for Rocco, it’s even more significant for the Make-A-Wish Foundation itself, as it marks the 500th wish granted by Cena for the organization.
“No other person, celebrity or otherwise, has granted more wishes than he has,” Make-A-Wish spokesman Josh deBerge said in an interview on Friday. “Not only has he granted more wishes than anyone else, John repeatedly grants amazing wishes every time he meets a wish kid.”
Cena’s involvement with the foundation began in 2004 and has expanded with time. In 2009, he received the organization’s Chris Greicius Celebrity Award, given to celebrities for outstanding commitment to wish-granting. He granted his 300th wish in 2012 and 400th in 2014, the first celebrity to reach each milestone.
Cena is carrying on a long tradition of granting wishes within the wrestling world. WWE’s involvement with the foundation reaches back to the early 1980s with Hulk Hogan. In the time since, more than 6,000 wishes have been granted by the WWE, with nearly 50 wrestlers participating in wishes since 2001. At Friday’s event lauding Cena’s accomplishment, the sports entertainment company made a $1 million commitment to Make-A-Wish.
Though Cena’s slate is always full (this wish alone comes the day after SummerSlam, one of the WWE’s marquee pay-per-view events, at which he will wrestle against current heavyweight champion Seth Rollins), this summer has been particularly active, including his comedic role in “Trainwreck” and a stint co-hosting the “Today” show earlier this week. But he always manages to find time to grant wishes.
“I’ll drop everything. If I can offer a fantastic experience, I’ll be first in line to do my part,” said Cena, making his trademarked catch phrase “Never give up” less of a slogan and more of a lifestyle.
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