Wrestling followers may have read the tragic but inspiring story of Connor Michalek in recent weeks. For those that haven't let us explain.
Connor Michalek from Pennsylvania was an amazing and incredibly brave little boy who suffered from brain cancer. Diagnosed at the age of 3 with cancer of the brain and spine, he underwent intensive surgeries on his brain, countless sessions of chemotherapy and radiation therapy and was given a 1 percent chance of surviving. None the less he remained tough and good humoured.
Connor was a wrestling fan and reportedly desperate to meet his hero Daniel Bryan. Following his plea in a youtube video which went viral in under a day, WWE organised for Bryan and Connor to meet. He was invited to Raw and plastered with merchandise. On entering the room, Daniel Bryan asked to see the 'Stone Crusher' which was the wrestling moniker Connor had adopted. Bryan went so far as to let Connor put him in his signature submission move.
After their meeting, Connor and Bryan stayed in touch, he visited another live event and in what was described as 'giving something for Connor to hold on for', he was invited to be front row at Wrestlemania 30 and spoke with Bryan immediately following his win.
Tragically, Connor died at the end of April. Two days ago, WWE posted a wonderful tribute video to their YouTube account which is heartbreaking. It includes Connor laying out Triple H and being cheered by WWE superstars. We did not want to miss the opportunity to highlight this for our blog.
Wrestling is many things to different people. It can be fun, daft, 'fake' or a religion. For young children - and we speak from experience - it can be awe inspiring, jaw dropping entertainment. Being able to put that privileged public adoration to good use is critical and whilst there may be PR benefits, it speaks volumes about the companies that prioritise make-a-wish and other schemes as part of their charitable work.
Of course, there are an unspeakable number of sick and ill children in this world. Not every one of them has access to the internet nor will they be able to follow the path that Connor did. But the importance of a company like WWE highlighting such stories cannot be underestimated. In doing so, they may inspire talent, other entertainment companies and individuals to try and lend comfort to terminally ill and very sick children.
In a world where our media is filled with bad news, fear and tragedy, the little rays of light from such human kindness can have a disproportional impact. More power to the companies that keep reaching out to these children. Our hearts and sincere condolences go out to Connor's family. We hope they know that his determination and bravery continue to serve as an inspiration for many of us.