Connor Michalek

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Connor Michalek
Connor Michalek.jpg
Michalek in 2012.
Born November 25, 2005
Died April 25, 2014 (aged 8)
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States
Cause of death Medulloblastoma
Other names The Crusher
Stone Crusher
Parent(s)
  • Stephen Michalek
  • Brittany Brophy (Caligiuri)

Connor Michalek (November 25, 2005 – April 25, 2014) was a WWE fan who received considerable media attention after a social media campaign for him to meet his hero and favorite wrestler, Daniel Bryan. He later met Bryan and other WWE stars a number of times. Michalek, who had battled cancer of the spine and brain since he was three years old, died on April 25, 2014 at the age of eight. WWE executives Paul Levesque ("Triple H") and Stephanie McMahon subsequently named the Connor's Cure charity in his honor and he posthumously received the inaugural Warrior Award at the 2015 WWE Hall of Fame ceremony.

Biography

Connor Michalek was born in 2005 to parents Steve Michalek and Brittany Caligiuri.[1] Michalek developed medulloblastoma when he was three years old. After his diagnosis, he underwent several surgeries and many rounds of chemotherapy. He had a younger brother, Jackson, and lived in the Shaler Township[2] of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania.[3] A fan of WWE, he was also known by his wrestling-inspired ring names, "Stone Crusher"[3] or simply "The Crusher".[4]

In October 2012, a video featuring Michalek asking to meet his hero, WWE wrestler Daniel Bryan, was posted to YouTube and received attention from media outlets. A social media campaign ensued, with hundreds of people joining a Facebook group titled "Help Connor meet Daniel Bryan". Within 48 hours, WWE chairman and CEO Vince McMahon stated that Michalek would meet Bryan.[5] Michalek met Bryan during a WWE Raw event at Pittsburgh's Consol Energy Center on December 18, 2012.[6] Bryan met Michalek again on October 7, 2013, when Raw was in Pittsburgh.[7] While attending the 2014 Royal Rumble, Michalek and his family became acquainted with WWE announcer Justin Roberts, who maintained a friendship with Michalek and introduced him to other WWE personalities.[8] Before the Raw preceding WrestleMania XXX, WWE invited Michalek into the ring and he proceeded to score a pinfall victory over Triple H.[9] Michalek attended the WrestleMania XXX festivities and was in the front row to see Bryan win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. Bryan embraced Michalek immediately following his victory.[4]

On April 25, 2014, Michalek died at 8 years old in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.[9]

Posthumous WWE Hall of Famer

Daniel Bryan inducts Michalek into the WWE Hall of Fame

Following Michalek's death WWE released a video in his memory, which went viral, featuring him interacting with numerous WWE employees during WrestleMania XXX weekend.[9]

On March 9, 2015, WWE announced that Michalek would be honored at the 2015 WWE Hall of Fame induction ceremony. He posthumously received the inaugural Warrior Award, named after The Ultimate Warrior, on March 28 and was inducted by Daniel Bryan and Dana Warrior.[10] The Warrior Award is to be given to individuals who have "exhibited unwavering strength and perseverance, and who lives life with the courage and compassion that embodies the indomitable spirit of The Ultimate Warrior".[11] His father Steve and brother Jackson accepted the award on his behalf. The induction made Michalek the youngest WWE Hall of Famer at age eight, though the WWE Hall of Fame website doesn't recognise him.

Response

"philanthropy is the future of marketing, it's the way brands r going 2 win" -@biz Stone co-founder @twitter #WWEBPS
Stephanie McMahon, on the same day as Michalek's receiving of the Warrior Award[12][13]

Justin Roberts, WWE's former ring announcer, wrote an article[14] questioning if Michalek's Hall of Fame induction by WWE was "driven by sincerity and not strategy". He also wrote in detail about WWE's relationship with Michalek, including his own involvement as the initial point-contact with Michalek's family. Roberts, who had left WWE several months prior, was driven to write the article after reading a tweet by Stephanie McMahon made on the same day as Michalek's receiving of the Warrior Award, which as analyzed by PWInsider "raises questions about the company's reasoning for their community outreach" despite Roberts' love of "the company [having] inducted Michalek into their Hall of Fame".[12][13][15]

Michalek's father responded to Roberts by tweeting that "regardless of what said, [Roberts] loved Connor and we love him. That's what counts. I will never [forget] all he did for Connor, and now me." A second tweet displayed pictures of Roberts together with Michalek, with the caption that "this is what counts, [let's] please remember. Actions that bring smiles, like these [Roberts] gave."[8][16] WWE responded to Roberts in a statement, stating that it was "offensive to suggest that WWE and its executives had anything but altruistic intentions in honoring Connor and his legacy with The Warrior Award".[12] WWE also highlighted in their statement their other partnerships for social causes, including Paul Levesque ("Triple H") and Stephanie McMahon's Connor’s Cure fund for pediatric cancer research and $1.5 million in funds raised for Susan G. Komen.[12] The Wrestling Observer Newsletter wrote that WWE's statement "really doesn't address much of what Roberts said, for whatever it's worth".[17]

Connor's Cure

Connor's Cure logo

In June 2014, Triple H and Stephanie McMahon founded Connor's Cure in Michalek's memory, a non-profit charitable organization for pediatric cancer research, which they have personally funded through Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh Foundation.[18][19] In their response to Roberts's criticisms in April 2015, WWE stated Connor’s Cure "already raised more than $200,000".[12] The organization reportedly had raised more than $630,000 by October 2015,[20] and nearly $1 million by March 2016, having helped more than 100 families.[21]

Beginning in 2015, WWE began recognizing September as pediatric cancer awareness month, and in doing so, added a gold color scheme to the sets and ring ropes, while also adding Connor's Cure logos to the set, and offering Connor's Cure merchandise on WWEShop.com, with the proceeds going to the charity.[20]

In March 2016, WWE announced a partnership with The V Foundation, a foundation for cancer research created by late sports broadcaster Jim Valvano.[21]

Awards and accomplishments

See also

References

  1. ^ "Pittsburgh boy battling cancer meets hero, WWE star Daniel Bryan". WPXI. December 18, 2012. Retrieved March 10, 2015. 
  2. ^ "Connor Michalek, 7-Year-Old Cancer Patient, Meets Daniel Bryan, Pro-Wrestling Hero 12 December 2012". The Huffington Post. December 21, 2012. Retrieved September 16, 2015. 
  3. ^ a b "WWE Star Makes Local Boy's Dream Come True". CBS Pittsburgh. December 18, 2012. Retrieved March 10, 2015. 
  4. ^ a b Hines, Martin (May 7, 2014). "WWE releases touching YouTube tribute to Connor 'The Crusher' Michalek". The Independent. Retrieved March 10, 2015. 
  5. ^ "Online effort to help 6-year-old fighting brain cancer meet WWE star succeeds". WPXI. October 11, 2012. Retrieved March 10, 2015. 
  6. ^ Mitchell, Houston (December 19, 2012). "WWE star Daniel Bryan makes 7-year-old cancer patient's day". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 10, 2015. 
  7. ^ Caldwell, James (October 8, 2013). "WWE videos: Cena talks WWE return on GMA, Bryan reunites with boy battling cancer, Raw Backstage Fallout". Pro Wrestling Torch. Retrieved March 10, 2015. 
  8. ^ a b Payne, Marissa (April 3, 2015). "Ex-WWE announcer accuses WWE of twisting cancer-stricken kid Connor 'The Crusher' Michalek's story for marketing purposes". Washington Post. Retrieved April 4, 2015. 
  9. ^ a b c Schwartz, Nick (May 6, 2014). "WWE's touching tribute to superfan Connor 'The Crusher' Michalek". USA Today. Retrieved March 10, 2015. 
  10. ^ Varsallone, Jim (March 10, 2015). "Inspirational WWE fan Connor Michalek to receive inaugural Warrior Award at WWE Hall of Fame event". Miami Herald. Retrieved March 9, 2015. 
  11. ^ a b "WWE fan Connor Michalek to receive first-ever Warrior Award at 2015 WWE Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony". WWE. March 9, 2015. Retrieved March 9, 2015. 
  12. ^ a b c d e Johnson, Mike. "[Updated with WWE statement] former WWE ring announcer Justin Roberts blogs on Connor induction to WWE Hall of Fame, WWE's usage of Conner". pwinsider.com. Retrieved 4 April 2015. 
  13. ^ a b Caldwell, James. "WWE Hall of Fame report 3/28". PWTorch.com. Retrieved 4 April 2015. 
  14. ^ Roberts, Justin. "Believe Half of What You See and Portions of What You Hear". Retrieved 4 April 2015. 
  15. ^ "Former ring announcer Justin Roberts questions sincerity of WWE's relationship with Connor the Crusher". PWTorch.com. Retrieved 4 April 2015. 
  16. ^ Johnson, Mike. "Michalek on Justin Roberts". PWInsider.com. Retrieved 9 April 2015. 
  17. ^ Bixenspan, David. "WWE theoretically responds to Justin Roberts article". f4wonline.com. Retrieved 9 April 2015. 
  18. ^ Finbow, Katy (June 24, 2014). "WWE creates Connor's Cure charity in honor of late fan Connor Michalek, 8". Digital Spy. Retrieved September 18, 2015. 
  19. ^ "Stephanie McMahon, Triple H announce 'Connor's Cure' charity fund in honor of Connor Michalek". WWE. Retrieved August 18, 2015. 
  20. ^ a b "Dancing Daniel Bryan, WWE 'going gold' for Connor's Cure". Miami Herald. September 3, 2015. Retrieved September 23, 2015. 
  21. ^ a b "WWE forms tag team with V Foundation for cancer awareness". Associated Press. March 14, 2016. Retrieved March 20, 2016. 

External links

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