A Ukrainian refugee family who escaped from the Russian invasion was met with the unique challenge of convincing 19-year-old Misha Rohozhyn, who has Down Syndrome, that they needed to flee. He is nonverbal and the sudden shift agitated him, until his mother, Liana, told Misha that they were traveling to meet his hero, wrestling champion and film and TV star John Cena.

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The news of meeting his hero calmed Misha, and word got to Cena himself of the family’s story. He flew to Amsterdam to meet Misha and his family.

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“When I read about Misha’s story, it reached out to me — not just Misha’s story, but the story of Misha’s mom as well,” Cena said in the video posted by WWE. “Having three days off from work right at the time when I read this story, and being an hour away by air, it turned immediately into, ‘We’re going.’”

He went on, “And that means spending an afternoon building blocks and eating cake. That’s a special afternoon when it comes to the new friends I was able to meet.”

The video footage in the tweet shows a montage of Cena meeting Misha and giving him a handshake and a hug. 

He tells the young man, “I’ve come a long way to see you. I’ve heard many things about you.”

While Cena showed up wearing his “Never Give Up” catchphrase branded green t-shirt and baseball cap. Later on in the visit, he gave the t-shirt and baseball cap to Misha as a gift, and he put them on. Cena also gifted Misha a WWE Championship belt, which he posed with for the camera.

Near the end of the video, Misha’s mother thanks Cena for his thoughtfulness in coming to meet her son, saying, “John, thank you. You have a big heart.”

Cena shared the video on Twitter, writing,  “What a wonderful way to spend a Saturday. Misha and his mother, Liana, define #NeverGiveUp.”

According to a report a few weeks ago by the Wall Street Journal on May 27, Misha would cry in his room in the safety of Amsterdam that Cena had yet to arrive to meet him, and Liana told the WSJ, “I tell him, ‘We’re not finished with our journey, but we need to stop here and save up a little for a ticket to America, to find him there.’”

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*First Published: June 13, 2022, 6:16 am