The Incredible Way John Cena Gave This Teen the Best Day of His Life

Kevin Gentry loves the WWE. The 16-year-old can regularly be found pulling up professional wrestling videos on YouTube and reacting to matches as if he was watching them from the arena. His favorite clips end with his idol, John Cena, winning.

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On Sunday, March 8, Kevin, who has Down syndrome, actually was ringside when his aunt and uncle took him to the PPL Center in Allentown, Pennsylvania, to witness Cena throw down.

And when the pro wrestler noticed his biggest fan, he went over and gave him a moment he’ll never forget.

Photo by Allison Gentry
Photo by Allison Gentry
Photo by Allison Gentry

Cena hugged Kevin, then gave the teen the “Never Give Up” sweatband he’d been wearing. The photos below show just how much the 16-year-old’s mind was blown.

“To witness this event — wow. I cried,” Eileen Ryan, Kevin’s aunt, told The Mighty. “Kevin shows unconditional love to anyone in his company. He’s one of 30 cousins, and he brings joy to all. To watch him meet his hero was incredible. After the event, he came up to my husband and me and said, ‘Thank you. This was the best day of my life.’”

Photo by Allison Gentry
Photo by Allison Gentry
Photo by Allison Gentry
Photo by Allison Gentry

In late February, the WWE (with Cena’s help) announced its Superstars for Hope campaign to raise funds for Special Olympics and Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford. Through March 31, fans are encouraged to use the #StarsforHope hashtag while donating to show their support.

Cena’s made headlines before for making young fans’ days. As of April 2014, he’d fulfilled more than 400 Make-A-Wish Foundation wishes — the most of any celebrity.

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21 Reasons to Celebrate Down Syndrome

It’s almost World Down Syndrome Day!

On March 21st, we will celebrate differences, we will celebrate being unique, we will celebrate all abilities and our wonderfully made children.

Here are 21 reasons why I love my daughter, Adele, and how she’s made our world a more beautiful place.

1) Her infectious laugh.

2) Her beauty, inside and out.

3) Her gentle ways.

4) How she’s inspired others to do good.

5) How she’s impacted so many lives in her short 19 months on earth.

6) Her ambition and drive.

7) The way she makes others feel. She’s full of light and love, and the world sees and feels it.

8) The joy and happiness she brings to her family and friends.

9) Her brains.

10) She’s taught us to not judge others but to instead listen and learn about their journey.

11) She wakes up smiling, and this sets the tone for how the day begins. It’s beautiful.

12) She’s shown us how to love — how to love the right way, deep and with raw emotion.

13) She’s taught us that we don’t always need to be in a rush; we should enjoy the moment.

14) She’s pushed us to be better people.

15) Her love for her sister. It’s a love like no other.

16) She naps. I love napping children.

17) She’s inspired me to give back to the Down syndrome community.

18) She appreciates snuggles, and I love to snuggle.

19) She’s brought the most amazing people into my life. I wonder how I’ve made it this far without knowing some of these amazing women and men.

20) She dances. It makes me smile, it makes me laugh, it brings me so much joy.

21) Adele has this way about her that makes my world a perfect place. She grew inside of me for 35 weeks. I worried. I cried. I didn’t know how to raise a child with Down syndrome. When I met Adele for the first time, I was overwhelmed with emotion. What I soon came to realize is that she is not Down syndrome. She is my child. She is my heart. All I see is her love for life. It’s a beautiful life.

“When you look into your mother’s eyes, you know that is the purest love you can find on this earth.” — Mitch Albom

This post originally appeared on A Perfect Extra Chromosome

RELATED: What’s One Thing You Wish People Knew About Down Syndrome

When a Mom Asked Why We Don’t Have Sad Posts in Our Down Syndrome Facebook Group

A new mom asked me recently why all the posts in our Facebook group of families who have children with Down syndrome are so positive. Where are the posts that reflect those more somber moments she and her husband experience? She can see her son reflected in the shared photos – beautiful children, every one of them. But the posts – is she not normal for feeling discouraged at times, or are we less than honest in our online community? Here’s my best answer.

At our core and out of necessity, we’re a group of encouragers. We’re building a recharging station to sustain each of us individually and all of us collectively, as we travel a long road with challenges unique to those who have a child with Down syndrome. As we read the posts, our minds file away the joys, the accomplishments and the successes of families we know. And on days laced with discouragement, we can tap into those files and find the energy to continue on. Our online community, in part, is an encouragement bank into which we’re making frequent deposits for withdrawal by anyone who needs it on any given day.

Less-than-happy posts exist, but it’s a gift of grace that we all don’t have a bad day on the same day. In a low moment this month, when I felt like I had nowhere else to share, I posted:

The very large majority of days I count it as a blessing to have Down syndrome woven into the fabric of our family. This isn’t one of those days, but on we go….

I was immediately regretful – I didn’t want to sound negative, especially if families newer to the journey were following – and I went online to remove it. But before I could do that, there were a dozen wonderful responses offered, including:

I had one of those days last week. Yes, sometimes it just stinks. Thank God for the good days.

Thank you for saying that. (I’m not the only one!)

I hear ya, sister!

What a gift and a lesson in the rewards for being honest. The community is ready to carry anyone who needs it on a wave of support that comes from a place of genuine understanding. Instantly buoyed, I was able to move on.

So my final response to the new mother is this: If you’re feeling discouraged, post. Let us lift you up. And when you arrive again at the place where this child, who is the love of your life, is so awesome you can’t contain yourself, post again. We’ll read your post and file it away and will call on your joy to sustain us when it’s our turn to need the lift.


Down Syndrome, I Once Feared You. Now I'm Thankful for You.

Dear Down syndrome,

When I learned my unborn child was at a high risk of having an extra copy of her 21st chromosome, I researched you.

I researched what you would do to my baby. Would you make her ugly and impossible to love? Would I resent you and the impact you had on her life and ours? Would I struggle with all the things that come with your diagnosis — the therapies, the difficulties, the learning delay? Would I regret bringing a child into the world who might be sick a lot, need operations and be rejected by society? What would you do to her face?

Her beautiful face was the first thing I saw after she was born. There you were, Down syndrome, printed on her face, hands and feet. Her body was limp and floppy, a result of you. She was cold.

I didn’t cry. I stared at my beautiful baby and saw her. I needed to feed her, love her, cuddle her and teach her. Just like her older sister.

She learned and developed, she laughed and played. She reached her milestones in her own time.

You, Down syndrome, have taught me so much about what it is to love and what it is to accept. My girl carries you with her for all to see, but what so many have learned is that she’s beautiful, and it’s you that has made her that way.

Together we move forward, teaching each other and learning from each other. Our futures are all unknown, and for her, it’s no different. We move into our futures as a family, with love and laughter.

I would never want to take you out of her because there would be nothing of her left. She is who she is because of you, and we intend to overcome any obstacles you throw our way. We can do it. I know we can.

Thank you, Down syndrome. You’ve come into our lives, and we’re better for having you. You’ve made my girl perfect.


The Mighty is asking its readers the following: If you could write a letter to the disability or disease you (or a loved one) face, what would you say to it? If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to [email protected] Please  include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio.

When I Realized My Son With Down Syndrome May Never Be a Pilot

When I was pregnant with my daughter, one of the things I was the most excited about was putting together a nursery. I thought about each detail. I spent more hours than I’d like to admit picking out her bedding. I did Pinterest-type DIY projects for it… and I’m not the DIY kind of girl. I wanted it to be perfect.

You would think with this being my second child, I would be less enthused about the nursery. Although they’re adorable, you rarely spend much time in your baby’s room. But I didn’t care. If I was going to have a boy, it had to be planes. I came up with the idea because my husband, Andy, is in the Air Force, and I just thought it fit.

A couple of days after getting the word that Anderson has Down syndrome, my mom brought up the nursery. She asked me if I’d like to try to find some airplane accessories and get started on the room. I burst into tears. “He’ll never be able to be a pilot!”

The point of doing the nursery in an airplane theme was never about him being a pilot, but with all of my dreams for my son crashing and burning around me it suddenly became important. In the days after the diagnosis, all I could think about were his limitations. How he would be limited in life. What he wouldn’t be able to do.

It wasn’t just his longterm future that kept me up at night — it was his childhood as well. I remember seeing a kid riding his bike when we were on our way to get the official diagnosis. Would he be able to ride a bike… ever? Would he be able to walk to his friends’ houses in the neighborhood? Would he have friends at all?

Time painfully passed by. I don’t remember much about the months after the diagnosis, but I do remember the days were long. But little by little, I started to research more about Down syndrome. I was able to reach out to other moms. I was able to see a brighter picture. And little by little the pieces of my shattered heart started coming back together. I realized my dreams had not been burned to the ground; they were actually rising to a level I had never thought possible.

Screen Shot 2015-03-06 at 7.04.47 AM

Since we moved in the last month of the pregnancy, we had only a few weeks to get his nursery together. When I started thinking about those dreams I knew what to do with the big red wall the room came with. I bought this decal that says, “Oh the places you will go…” Oh, the places he will go. Yes, he will be limited. At times he will have to fight harder than others to get to where he wants to be. But what an inspiration he could be. I say could because of course an extra chromosome does not guarantee anything, good or bad. One thing I do know for sure: his life will never be ordinary, and yes that is still scary at times but oh the possibilities.

Vintage Airplane Nursery

 Read our diagnosis story here. Read Anderson’s birth story here.

This post originally appeared on News Anchor to Homemaker

Why Down Syndrome Is Like the World’s Best Haunted House

1379491_10201724073577079_936659220_n Dear Down syndrome,

I’m writing you a letter, to say thank you.

I want to thank you, first of all, for giving me the scare of my life that turned out to be not so scary after all. When I found out you were going to be a permanent part of our lives, I was terrified. However, you’re like the best haunted house I’ve ever been to. You scared the crap out of me, made me question every action I’d ever taken, and then came out from behind the scary black wall to give me a hug and say, “I was just messing with you. Don’t be scared!” You were like the terrifying horror flick that had a surprising twist at the end and turned into the feel-good hit of the summer. I love a good scare, so for that, I say thank you.

Thank you for the awareness and clarity you’ve brought into my soul. Down syndrome, before you were in my life I didn’t know what it truly meant to be aware. It’s true, like so many say, I never did anything intentionally to hurt others but hurt others I did. I used words and phrases that made others feel “less than” without realizing I was doing it. I judged others and situations without truly understanding what it was they were going through. Thank you for opening up my mind, my heart and my soul so I could begin seeing myself and others with a new truth. Thank you for leading me down a path to a person who, today, is aware of the words she uses, the path of the people she sees and the beauty in the world around her. I’m still not perfect, but with you by my side I know I’ll continue to walk this path, becoming more aware every single day.

Thank you, Down syndrome, for my friends. Because of you I’ve met so many amazing new people! I’ve met mamas and daddies from all over the world whose lives you’ve blessed, and they’re an inspiration. Thank you for leading me to this community of hope and love that’s been my rock through every hurdle my son, Benny, and I encounter. I can’t imagine going through life and not knowing about all the wonderful people and the wonderful things they do to educate the world about you.

Thank you for making me smarter. Thank you for making me super diligent — something I never was before —  about what I cook, what products I buy, how much exercise we get. I’m better at paying attention to what goes on at the doctor, understanding medical terminology and knowing warning signs of thyroid issues. I’m smarter, which makes me a better mama, and I thank you.

Thank you, most of all, for every single way in which you make my Benjamin different. Thank you for his beautiful eyes, his super-flexibility and his cute little simian crease. Thank you for giving me the opportunity –that most parents pray for — to keep my baby a baby just a little bit longer than most. Thank you for the extended nursing time I probably wouldn’t have had without you. Thank you for the slow progression into knowing what it’s like to have a baby “get into things” and allowing me to just enjoy sitting and playing with him on the floor. Thank you for being a part of my Benny because he’s just perfect, and without you, he wouldn’t be him.

Love always,

Jamie Freeman


Follow this journey on Ben Through It All.

The Mighty is asking its readers the following: If you could write a letter to the disability or disease you (or a loved one) face, what would you say to it? If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to [email protected] Please  include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio.

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