John Cena meets Ukrainian war refugee with Down syndrome after teen’s mother uses idol as motivation to escape


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A Ukrainian teenager met his idol, famous WWE star and actor John Cena, over the weekend after his mother used the fantasy of meeting him as a motivational tool to flee the war-torn city of Mariupol.

Liana Rohozhyna, the mother of Misha Rohozhyn, a 19-year-old with Down syndrome who cannot speak, has repeatedly told her son that they are constantly on the move to Ukraine to find John Cena – while in reality the family was fleeing a devastating war front and a Russian siege on their hometown, the Wall Street Journal reported.

“Misha is an example to move towards your dream by believing in it,” she said, according to the report.

MIAMI GARDENS, FL – APRIL 1: John Cena looks on before his match against Dwayne ”The Rock” Johnson at WrestleMania XXVIII at Sun Life Stadium on April 1, 2012 in Miami Gardens, Florida.
(Ron Elkman/Sports Pictures/Getty Images)

The family’s journey was not easy as they reportedly passed through minefields, came into contact with Russian soldiers, faced artillery strikes and crossed several national borders.

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But, the idea of ​​meeting the iconic wrestler motivated the teenager to keep pushing.

According to the report, Misha and his mother arrived safely in the Netherlands last month, but they still never fulfilled the motivational fantasy of meeting Cena.

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On Saturday, that fantasy came true when the towering superstar visited Misha and her mother at their new home in Huizen.

“I didn’t want a son to think of his mother in a different light just because she did everything she had to do to get him to safety,” Cena said, according to the WSJ.

In this photo taken from a video released on Wednesday, May 4, 2022 by the press service of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Donetsk People's Republic, smoke rises from the Azovstal metallurgical complex in Mariupol, in the territory under the government of the Donetsk People's Republic in eastern Ukraine.  (Press service of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Donetsk People's Republic via AP)

In this photo taken from a video released on Wednesday, May 4, 2022 by the press service of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Donetsk People’s Republic, smoke rises from the Azovstal metallurgical complex in Mariupol, in the territory under the government of the Donetsk People’s Republic in eastern Ukraine. (Press service of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Donetsk People’s Republic via AP)
(Press service of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Donetsk People’s Republic via AP)

Cena gave Misha a hat and a t-shirt with his WWE mantras and the two ate Ukrainian honey cake.

“If I have cake, will Misha have some with me?” Cena asked the family through a translator, the WSJ reported. Misha enthusiastically agreed.

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Seeing his idol was the first time Misha had smiled since the war began, Rohozhyna told the outlet.

She also said that Misha’s bedroom in their Ukrainian home was covered in Cena wrestling posters.

LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 21: John Cena dressed as Peacemaker "The Suicide Squad"sees himself at "Jimmy Kimmel live" on July 21, 2021 in Los Angeles, California.

LOS ANGELES, CA – JULY 21: John Cena dressed as Peacemaker from ‘The Suicide Squad’ is seen at ‘Jimmy Kimmel Live’ on July 21, 2021 in Los Angeles, California.
(Photo by RB/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)

This house, however, came under Russian mortar fire on February 24, the first day of the Ukrainian-Russian war, and the two were forced to flee. They arrived at a shelter but after a power outage they were again forced to leave, the WSJ reported.

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According to the report, Misha had a panic attack, so her mother decided not to hide in an underground facility. The two stayed in a day center, which could have suffered Russian artillery strikes, before fleeing to the Netherlands.

A member of the Russian Emergencies Ministry walks near a destroyed residential building in Mariupol, Ukraine, Thursday, May 11.

A member of the Russian Emergencies Ministry walks near a destroyed residential building in Mariupol, Ukraine, Thursday, May 11.
(Reuters/Alexander Ermoshenko)

Before wrapping up the visit on Saturday, Cena let Misha wear a WWE Championship belt and cheered on the family.

“I tried to let [Misha] know today that in every journey we have good days and bad days,” Cena said Saturday afternoon, according to the report. “Hopefully there will be more good days.”

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“I wanted to tell him today personally that his story really touched me,” added the wrestler.

Cena visited the family from London, where he was filming.

Mariupol remains under Russian control after it successfully seized it last month.




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