While John Cena is best known for his wrestling prowess, his newest title was just announced by World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. — and it’s terribly heartwarming.
“@JohnCena has granted more wishes via @MakeAWish than any other celebrity in history,” the WWE tweeted on June 19.
— WWE (@WWE) June 19, 2022
Cena got his start with the wish-making efforts back in 2004, just two years after going public with the WWE. His first encounter with Make-A-Wish was entirely casual: a child had come in to meet another wrestler, and as the WWE got ready for the meet-and-greet, they asked other big-name wrestlers to just stop by and say hi.
Cena went in, said hi and had a good time — but most importantly, he learned about Make-A-Wish and their noble work, and he was hooked.
By 2012, he’d granted 300 wishes. By 2014, 400. By 2015, 500.
In 2015, after hitting 500 wishes, he said he made it a habit to “drop everything” when he got a request and focus on making the child’s dream come true.
“If I can offer a fantastic experience, I’ll be first in line to do my part,” he told the Associated Press, according to The Florida Times-Union.
“They certainly deserve a day as a real kid.”
For Cena, the connection goes beyond the single meeting. Sometimes he stays in contact with the families, and he often gets notes about how much his visit meant.
“Those are always difficult to read,” Cena said. “But at the same time, the strength of the parents in sending me a message about how much the time that I spent with their child meant to them, it’s very special.”
WWE stars have done their part, with over 50 participants granting thousands of wishes over the years. Hulk Hogan used to be most requested, but now it’s Cena who Make-A-Wish says is their most popular celebrity request.
“We can’t get over this awesome wish!” Make-A-Wish America posted on Facebook in 2019. “Wish kid Anne-Marie from Make-A-Wish Canada recently had her wish granted to be an extra in a movie thanks to director Andy Fickman! Andy is the director behind the new movie Playing With Fire, starring John Cena, and he went above and beyond to grant Anne-Marie’s wish. Be sure to check out the movie and watch for Anne-Marie! Thanks to Andy for giving Anne-Marie the star treatment!”
Cena says the happiness and hope he’s able to bring these kids during their meetings makes it all worth it.
“I want them to have an experience that will stay with them to forever,” he said. “I don’t ever want the children or their families to be treated in a way where they feel as if they’re up against anything at all.”
“He’s an entertainer, but he’s a fighter,” Make-A-Wish CEO David Williams said in 2015. “Ultimately, these kids are fighting, just fighting a different kind of battle.
“That’s what resonates so much with these kids.”