John Cena's in Pink. Rise Above Cancer!
The decorated pro wrestler, a product of West Newbury and 12-time World Wrestling Entertainment champion, is set to unveil his new Susan G. Komen for the Cure pink ring attire tonight at the TD Garden for the “Night of Champions” pay-per-view event. While most eyes will be glued to the wrestling action inside the squared circle, the real story with Cena is his work outside of the ring.
Cena will be wearing his new gear through October, which is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The mission of Susan G. Komen for the Cure is to eradicate breast cancer, which can be a deadly opponent when not treated early. Cena’s “Rise Above Cancer” endeavor is just a part of what makes him one of the most charitable celebrities in the world.
“One of the reasons I really wanted to do something with Susan G. Komen is because of my brother,” said Cena, 35. “Early detection saved his life.”
Cena’s youngest brother, Sean, learned last November that he had brain cancer.
“Sean’s doing extremely well,” said Cena. “It was an inoperable brain tumor, but one of the main reasons he’s done well is the early detection. I know it’s brain cancer and breast cancer, but that key is early detection.”
The Cena-Komen partnership on the surface seems like an odd one, but they are a perfect match. Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer, as well as the second-leading cause of cancer-related death among women in the U.S. And there are more than five million women who watch WWE programming each week.
“It’s very exciting for us to be partnered up with Susan G. Komen,” said Paul Levesque, the executive vice president of talent and live events, but better known as “Triple H” to the WWE universe. “The WWE and John Cena have such a large female fan base, so it’s important for us to support the people who have supported us for so long.”
And the people at Komen are not shy about explaining how this tag team was built.
“This all came together through John Cena,” said Ronni Cohen-Boyar, the executive director of Komen’s Massachusetts affiliate. “We’re wrestling with breast cancer, but John wanted to give back to his fans and he came to Komen. This is a great opportunity for us to reach out to people and help them take action.”
Cena is the second-oldest of five boys (“we’re like a pack of wolves”), and sees the connection between his willingness to give back and the way he was raised.
“The concept of loyalty is something I learned from my family,” said Cena, “and that’s truly been a big attribute that’s got me where I am today.”
Cena’s loyalty is on display every time he meets his fans, but particularly so with a special part of his fan base: the children from Make-A-Wish. In June, Cena granted his 300th Wish, far and away the most one person has given to the esteemed foundation.
“John travels 300 days a year, yet he still commits his personal time to granting the wishes of kids wanting to meet him because he is passionate about his fans,” said Make-A-Wish CEO David Williams. “He recognizes the tremendous honor of someone having the opportunity to ask for anything in the entire world and then choosing to meet him.”
Cena understands the gravity of these wishes.
“Make-A-Wish is all about living one’s spirit,” said Cena. “A wish is a giant morale boost and gives these kids an extra special day in the fight of their life. You never want a family to get that one wish and walk away and say, ‘Oh man, I wish we wished for something else.’
“You can write checks, and that’s always well-appreciated, but you can also donate a very valuable asset, and that’s time,” said Cena. “Time speaks volumes. And I would never say no, especially to a child whose only wish is to meet me — that’s just the most flattering thing, I can’t even put it in words. Giving back is something that will never stop.”
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