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Professional wrestler John Cena met with a 19-year-old fan with Down syndrome after the teenager fled Ukraine with his family in the wake of Russian invasion.
The teen, Misha Rohozhyn met with the wrestler turned Hollywood actor in the Netherlands, where he and his family have sought refuge.
Rohozhyn is a huge fan of Cena and had posters of him on the walls in a Mariupol apartment that he lived in before it was bombed by Russian forces.
The teenager’s mum, Liana said she had to make up a ‘motivational fantasy’ in order to convince Rohozhyn to brave the move away from Ukraine. She told him that the WWE star would be present to greet them at the end of their travels across Europe. Rohozhyn was upset when Cena was nowhere to be seen when he and his relatives arrived in the Netherlands in May.
Cena became aware of Rohozhyn’s story when it was mentioned in an article for The Wall Street Journal in May, the piece explored the impact of war on people living with disabilities.
.@JohnCena meets Misha, a teen who fled Ukraine after his home was destroyed.— WWE (@WWE) June 7, 2022
To motivate Misha on their journey to safety, his mother told him they were on their way to find Cena. pic.twitter.com/0Aeab4GkPZ
Speaking ahead of meeting the teenager, Cena said: “When I read about Misha's story it reached out to me - not just Misha‘s story but his mom's as well.”
He added: “Having three days off from work right at the time I read the story, and being an hour away by air, it turned into "We’re going," and that means spending an afternoon building blocks, eating cake - that’s a special afternoon when it comes to new friends I was able to meet.”
Cena went to the refugee centre that Rohozhyn and his family are temporarily staying, on the outskirts of Amsterdam.
When he saw the teenager, Cena said: “Misha, very nice to meet you, I've come a long way to see you.” He then hugged both Rohozhyn and his mum, and presented him with a WWE belt, his shirt and cap and an action figure.
Cena spoke about the experience of meeting Rohozhyn and his family.
He said: “Misha's ability to embrace persistence is extraordinary, those words, never give up ... they’re very powerful.”
“I think Misha's a great example and Misha's mom, there’s two great examples about how persistence can lead to joy, even through the toughest of times.”
He added: “This was a wonderful adventure in which I got to meet a wonderful new friend, thank you for giving me strength. How special is today? Yeah, pretty darn special.”
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