The family's home was destroyed on the very first day of the Russian invasion, forcing them to flee Ukraine.
As Liana Rohozhyna fled Ukraine with her son, a nonverbal teenager with Down syndrome, she placated him by claiming they were going to meet John Cena, his favorite wrestler and actor. Her son Misha Rohozhyn left the war-torn town of Mariupol in Ukraine thinking he was going to meet John Cena, his idol. What Rohozhyna didn't expect was for John Cena to hear their story and then travel to Amsterdam and make her promise to her son come good. As they fled Ukraine, Rohozhyna repeatedly told Misha they were going to meet John Cena. The WWE star made the family's day as he met up with them and spent time with the 19-year-old. "Misha is an example for moving toward your dream by believing in it," she said, reported The Wall Street Journal.
The pair faced an arduous journey to the Netherlands as they crossed minefields and faced Russian soldiers and artillery strikes. Rohozhyna believes she said what was necessary to get her son to a place of safety, but Cena didn't want to let them down. "I didn’t want a son to think of his mom in a different light just because she did whatever she had to do to get him to safety," said Cena, who also brought gifts for Misha, including a hat and a T-shirt featuring his WWE mantras. Rohozhyna said that Misha's room back home was plastered with John Cena wrestling posters. Their home was destroyed by mortar fire on the very first day of the invasion, on February 24. Forced to flee, they arrived at a shelter until they were forced to move again.
Cena also had cake with the 19-year-old. "If I have cake, will Misha have cake with me?" Cena asked the family with the help of a translator and Misha excitedly accepted. Rohozhyna said she was seeing Misha smile for the first time since the war started. Rohozhyna and her son, Misha, initially planned to hide out in an underground facility but Misha had a panic attack and Rohozhyna decided to keep moving. She used the idea of meeting Cena to keep Misha motivated to move. They eventually reached the Netherlands, where they sought refuge. Cena was filming in London when he heard about Misha and decided to meet him and his mom.
Cena also let Misha wear a WWE championship belt. He wished them good luck after spending time with them. "I tried to let [Misha] know today that in every journey we’ve got good days and bad days," said Cena. "I hope he gets more good ones." He also told the family how much the interaction meant to him. "I wanted to tell him today personally that his story really touched me," the wrestler said. The wrestler is known for being a prolific wish-granter. He has made dreams come true for more than 600 kids through Make-A-Wish, a nonprofit organization that helps grant life-changing wishes for children fighting critical illnesses, reported PEOPLE. “My first Make-A-Wish, I was kind of shuffled—it wasn’t for me, I think the person wanted to meet another superstar,” said Cena. “But the WWE does a great job of like, ‘Hey, there’s a Make-A-Wish kid in this room. Can you come say hello?’ So, a bunch of people are shuttled in to say hello to a young fan of WWE.”
“So, we’re shuttled in and said my hellos and took my pictures and then left. And they’re like, ‘Thank you, Make-A-Wish thanks you.’ I was like, ‘What is Make-A-Wish?’” said Cena. “I said, ‘If you ever need me for this ever, I don’t care what I’m doing, I will drop what I’m doing and be involved because I think that’s the coolest thing. We’ve all experienced that joy of giving a gift for the holidays where you just nail it—that’s the same gift I get in giving back to people’s lives, in being able to give them wonderful emotional moments.”