12-year-old wrestling fan Payton Marion was diagnosed at birth with cerebral palsy, and suffers from debilitating physical challenges as a result. Despite not being able to compete on his own, Payton’s love for sport is as big as anyone’s. His father Justin says that Payton’s favourite sports are Nascar and WWE wrestling, with his favorite athlete being, by far, the 16-time WWE Champion John Cena.
When Justin discovered that the WWE had a live event scheduled in the Marion’s hometown of Johnson City, Tennessee, he did everything in his power to make a meeting between his son and the boy’s idol happen. After starting a GoFundMe page, which successfully raised over $1,000 to cover the cost of two VIP backstage tickets, Justin and Payton attended the event with the hope of making the dream a reality.
After the matches had ended, the two headed backstage for a meet-and-greet with the wrestlers but to their disappointment, Cena was nowhere to be found — so they thought. Upon meeting another WWE superstar, A.J. Styles, Payton’s luck turned quickly for the better. In a post on Reddit, his father described what happened next:
“[Styles] saw us standing around, and asked if we wanted a picture. Of course we said, ‘Yes!’ Then he asked if we got to see everyone. I told him everyone but my son’s favourite, John Cena. He then told us to follow him, and took us backstage to the locker room. That’s when he went and got Cena for us!!”
— Justin Marion (@iBeTRiiX) March 27, 2017
As Cena makes his way out to greet the young boy, Cena grabbed Peyton by the hand and said, “I saw you at ringside!”
“You have no idea how much this means to him,” replied Justin, as Cena embraced his son. “He is your ultimate fan. You’re the reason he can use this arm right here.”
Suffice to say, it was a life changing experience not only for young Payton, but for his devoted father as well. This really is what sports (and sports entertainment) are all about.
— Justin Marion (@iBeTRiiX) March 26, 2017