Tag Archives: Make-A-Wish Foundation

WWE Superstar John Cena grants Maspeth boy’s wish

| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo courtesy the Lanzer family

To wrestling fans around the world WWE Superstar John Cena is known for being a 15-time world champion, but outside of the ring he is best known for his work with the Make-A-Wish Foundation. On Monday night Cena set the record for most celebrity wishes at 500, by making an 8-year-old boy from Maspeth’s dream come true.

Last week Cena surprised Rocco Lanzer, who was diagnosed with acute t-cell lymphoblastic leukemia in January, on the set of the “Today” show with tickets to “Monday Night Raw” at the Barclays Center and a championship belt.

“He was ecstatic. He was at a loss for words,” said Maria Lanzer, Rocco’s mother. “He was walking on cloud nine and still is. John Cena is his favorite. He enjoys everything about the WWE, but John Cena is his number one favorite.”

As part of his wish, Rocco played games with Cena at a party at a Dave & Buster’s restaurant and joined Cena in ringing the opening bell of the New York Stock Exchange on Friday.

“Mommy, I can’t believe I met John Cena and I played games with him at Dave & Busters,” Rocco told his mother.

Before Monday’s edition of “Raw,” Cena took Rocco backstage to meet several other WWE Superstars, get autographs and snap photos with some of his favorites.

“He got to meet a lot of the wrestlers. He got autographs and took pictures,” Lanzer said. “He got to walk down the entrance ramp with John Cena as his music was playing. After the show, John met with us outside of our limo and told Rocco to keep up the good spirits and to write to him. He shook his hand and gave him a hug.”

Cena’s motto of “never give up” is more than just a catchphrase; it has become a beacon of hope for children who are going through difficult times. Rocco has seen his share of tough times, receiving chemotherapy regularly three to four times a week, as well as blood transfusions when his blood counts become too low, Lanzer said.

“From the beginning I was telling him to never give up and he said, ‘That’s what John Cena says,” and I told him, “See, if John Cena says it you can’t give up,’” Lanzer recalled. “The motto fits for Rocco’s case. He is going through treatments like a champ.”

The Lanzers were very grateful to Cena for helping their child’s wish come true.

“Throughout his treatment and all the bumps in the road, it was great to see him smile. It lifted his spirts so much,” Lanzer said. “Meeting his hero and being there last night, seeing the smile on his face makes me and my husband so grateful for everyone who was involved with his wish. We were so happy and crying because he got to meet his idol and his role model.”

John Cena wore the loom bracelet Rocco made for him in ring, which added more to Rocco’s happiness that night, Lanzer added.

“His smile was from ear to ear all night,” she said. “John Cena has his heart in every wish he grants, which makes it more special. It was a chance of a lifetime and I would love to give a shoutout to Make-A-Wish and the WWE for granting his wish.”


Make-A-Wish Foundation marks 9,000th wish in Queens

| amanning@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of the Make-A-Wish Foundation

Little Neck resident Tyler Cacioppo had a ball last week as the Make-A-Wish foundation granted him his wish to play with his favorite soccer team, the New York Red Bulls. Cacioppo marked their 9,000th wish in the Metro New York area.

Cacioppo is an active 12-year-old with Crohn’s disease, a form of inflammatory bowel disease that usually infects the intestines. Diagnosed shortly before his sixth birthday after having been sick for a month with 104 degree fevers every day, he has lived half his life filled with doctor’s appointments, surgeries, and hospital visits. On a more daily basis, Cacioppo said that, “I have to go to the bathroom a lot during classes, and my friend’s usually don’t because they don’t have Crohn’s.”

None of that has stopped his ever-growing love of soccer, which he took up after seeing his older brother playing the game. Since then Cacioppo has taken the position of family soccer player, joining a travel team in the fifth grade, which he loves because he gets the opportunity to play against more competitive teams.

Although it is a common misconception that the Make-A-Wish foundation only grants the wishes of children with terminal illnesses, they serve those with life-threatening illnesses as well. They came to find out about Cacioppo through his gastroenterologist, Dr. Cindy Haller from Cohen’s Children’s Medical Center, who submitted Cacioppo as a very deserving candidate.

The foundation partnered with the New York Red Bulls soccer team to give Cacioppo a gift he will never forget. He was “pumped” before meeting the team, which includes his favorite player, French World Cup star Thierry Henry.

“It was really fun; it was cool how they passed the ball around. I learned many things that I can tell my team,” said Cacioppo as he excitedly described practicing with the Red Bulls before their big game against the L.A. Galaxy. “My favorite moment was practicing with the trainer Mike and Thierry Henry.”

Cacioppo also got to collect autographs and chat with the team over lunch in their players’ lounge. He then enjoyed the game, which the Red Bulls won, much to his delight. He even got to take home a signed game shirt from Henry.

Patti Cacioppo, Tyler’s mother, said that the process was very easy for them. It was a welcomed break from the stress and anxiety of having to see her son in pain so often.

“I always had this thought in my mind that Tyler’s life was going to be a fairy tale, that yes he was going to have ups and downs, but never did I think he would have to go through any of the things he has endured,” she said.

“Watching Tyler those two days being able to enjoy himself outside his normal doctor’s appointments, hospitals stays, nasal gastric tube feedings and just be a kid who loves soccer was one of the happiest moments I have had in a very long time,” she continued. “I wish it was longer.”

Mike Petke, assistant coach of the Red Bulls, immensely enjoyed helping grant Cacioppo’s wish, saying that he “had such a wonderful, emotional and gratifying day and I will never forget Tyler or his family.”

“I hope that I helped him take his mind off of his situation, even for a few minutes,” said Petke. It is safe to say that he did just that.