Many kids grow up with childhood dreams of becoming a rock star or a famous athlete, meeting their favorite celebrity or making a million dollars.
For most kids, those dreams never come true, but Tyler Wibly isn’t most kids.
At 6 months old, Tyler, now 11, was diagnosed with Spastic Quadriplegic Cerebral Palsy — an illness that affects the entire body, including muscle control and speech.
That form of cerebral palsy makes the simplest of tasks difficult for him to perform, said his mother, Jennifer Wibly.
Jennifer said though Tyler, of Austintown, is unable to walk and is in a wheelchair, he enjoys the same things as other children his age, namely, professional wrestling.
“He is a big fan of the WWE,” she said. “A couple of his friends get together every Friday and Monday and watch it with him.”
Watching wrestlers such as Randy Orton, Big Show and Edge week after week, Tyler never thought he’d have the chance to meet his wrestling idol — John Cena.
Jennifer contacted the Kids Wish Network, based in Florida, and told them of her son’s condition and his desire to meet the WWE superstar.
Tyler’s wish was granted, and on May 10, he and his family went to Mellon Arena in Pittsburgh to meet Cena and watch the evening’s wrestling match.
“That whole day was really crazy,” Jennifer said. “When he first saw John Cena, he was just speechless. His eyes got real big, and he couldn’t believe it was really him.”
Tyler, who beamed at the very mention of Cena’s name, said he was “happy” when he met the wrestler.
He described Cena as “very nice” and said he constantly wears an autographed hat and shirt Cena gave to him.
Jennifer said her son gave Cena a guardian-angel coin from the Kids Wish Network for good luck. Tyler said Cena won the match.
Jill Atchison, wish coordinator for the foundation, said Tyler was one of about 175 children with life-threatening illnesses who are granted wishes each year.
Atchison said Tyler was a joy to work with.
“Like all of our kids, he deserves a wish. He’s a sweet little boy,” she said. “He wanted to meet John Cena, and the WWE is very nice to all of our children.”
Atchison said to qualify for a wish from the foundation, a child must be between 3 and 18, have a life-threatening illness and must be able to communicate his or her wish to the foundation.
Jennifer said Cena spent about 25 minutes talking with Tyler and looking through a scrapbook the boy made for him.
“We made something they could talk about while they were talking with each other,” she said.
Cena “was surprised that he got something from one of the wish kids to keep for himself.”
Jennifer said it was a day her son won’t soon forget.
“He’s already conned us into buying tickets to the WWE match at the Covelli Centre June 26,” she said, laughing.
Tyler nodded, grinning ear to ear.
“I want to go again,” he said.