Wrestlers and Kids: Who Is Fulfilling Whose Wish?
by Trapper Tom, ring announcer and journalist
When we got the email, we were all just a little surprised. One of our regular fans (or Krazies as we call them), a 14-year-old mentally challenged youngster confined to a wheelchair named Nicole, was having her Make-A-Wish Foundation dream fulfilled. Her entire family was going to Disneyland. In her Make-A-Wish biograph, it mentioned that Nicole likes watching "wrestling every month in the Lawrenceville Moose," in Pittsburgh, PA.
Sometimes it shocks even us, how much our devotion to an industry, a sport, means to many of our fans.
Around that same time, we got word that another Make-A-Wish recipient, 10-year-old Christopher, was having his dream met by meeting John Cena, undeniably the biggest "good guy" on the grandest stage. Cena was in Pittsburgh recently, part of the TV show he is on every week. Christopher met the gentleman, had some gear signed, and presumably had some pictures taken. It had to be a highlight of his young life. Heck, it would probably make me giddy!
We soon got word that Christopher would be coming to the Keystone State Wrestling Alliance as part of his extended "dream." Arriving about an hour before bell time, he had the opportunity to meet the entire KSWA locker room, even guys who usually don't "have time for kids." Sometimes even the meanest of bad guys have a soft spot for kids.
He received a brand new black folding chair, decorated with gray signatures from the KSWA Megastars. And me. Laugh out loud.
Christopher met everyone, first with a slight look of disappointment. Remember, he had just met Cena, a 240-pound mound of muscle who looks like a Humvee compared to most of his colleagues. He was now in an independent ring. But once he got to wear "Ice Man" Tony Johnson's junior heavyweight championship belt, Christopher brightened up. Christopher brought his pal Tyler to the event and they took pictures with all the wrestlers. Christopher smiled in most pics. In some, Tyler looked like he was being held hostage. Christopher received a bunch of wrestling toys and tee shirts from wrestler Alex Arcadian and KSWA Hall of Famer and Studio Wrestling legend Frank Durso.
Soon, Christopher was asked to be the guest time keeper for a semi-final match in the penultimate Joe Abby Memorial Tournament. Nearly 300 people in attendance cheered for him.
The youngster bad mouthed "The Enforcer" Shawn Blanchard and the five-time former KSWA Champion trash-talked back. Then something amazing happened. Christopher tossed his Frank Durso tee shirt onto the floor and he started to grind his foot into the black cotton. Those who saw the display, including me, laughed. Here was a young man, facing physical and medical problems most of us couldn't (or didn't want to) fathom, smiling, happy, and displaying pep. It was a moment I won't soon forget.
When the match was over, Christopher was thanked for being a special timekeeper and he raced back to his family, slapping hands with fellow fans just as he did when he was asked to join my table. His Dad beamed from ear to ear.
Throughout the night, Christopher could be seen hooting and hollering, having a grand time. At the end of the evening, autographs everywhere, Christopher came over and excitedly exclaimed, "I'll be back."
Those three little words, "I'll be back," sometimes shake us to the core a little more than those other, more infamous "three little words." There are times when loved ones, our closest friends, look down on what we do as "professional wrestlers." Then there are wheelchair-bound, teenage girls who roar in approval when they see us. Then there are young boys who cheer for the winner of our Joe Abby Tournament and proudly carry an autographed chair out of the KSWA Arena at the Lawrenceville Moose.
"I'll be back." I'll take that any day.
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