A desperate mother will say and do just about anything to remove her children from harm’s way.
When their home was destroyed by Russian violence, Ukrainian mother Liana Rohozhyn gathered her children and fled from Mariupol. Her teenage son Misha Rohozhyn has Down syndrome and does not speak, so he had a hard time understanding what was happening.
In order to get him to cooperate, Liana used a “motivational fantasy” to encourage her son to make the journey to a refugee shelter in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Misha adores the WWE, especially former wrestler John Cena, so Liana told him they were “going to meet John Cena.”
When they arrived in Amsterdam and John wasn’t there, Misha was upset. Later, The Wall Street Journal wrote a story about the family’s escape to freedom. When John saw the article, he happened to be filming in London, just an hour’s plane ride from Amsterdam.
John is known for going out of his way for his fans. In fact, he holds the record for most Make-A-Wish wishes granted by a celebrity — 650 so far! So when he heard about the role he’d played in Misha’s escape, he knew he had to go meet the young man in person.
“When I read about Misha’s story it reached out to me, not just Misha’s story, but the story of Misha’s mom as well,” John explained in a video. “[I happened to have] three days off from work right at the time when I read this story, and being an hour away by air, it turned immediately into, ‘We’re going!’ And that means spending an afternoon building blocks and eating cake.”
John hopped on a plane and flew to Amsterdam, surprising Misha with a WWE jersey, hat, and a replica of his WWE title belt. They played games, ate cake, and even compared muscles. Misha was so happy to see his hero, and it made the long journey from Ukraine worth every bit of effort.
The wrestler-turned-actor was left with a new appreciation for how tough refugees really are. His motto is, “Never Give Up,” and he says Misha and Liana perfectly embody that sentiment.
“Misha’s ability to embrace persistence, that’s extraordinary,” John said. “Those words, Never Give Up, we’ve all thought about those in our life, they’re very powerful. I think Misha’s a great example, and Misha’s mom, they’re two great examples of how persistence can lead to joy, even through the toughest of times.”
John ended the video by saying how grateful he was for the chance to meet a “wonderful new friend.” He also passed along a shout-out to fellow WWE wrestler Alexa Bliss, a.k.a. Lexi Cabrera.
We’d like to thank John Cena for taking the time to go meet this traumatized young man and his family. Few celebrities really walk the walk as he does, and we’re so glad he could show Misha that sometimes, dreams do come true.
Watch John’s video message below, and share his act of kindness.
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