Circle of Champions: Ryan's WWE Wish
Meet Ryan Tubiolo, an 8-year-old boy from Webster, N.Y., with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.
At age 2, Ryan was diagnosed with DMD, recognized by the Muscular Dystrophy Association. As he lost strength and muscle tissue throughout the years, he also lost mobility, confining him to a wheelchair by age 8.
Ryan, along with siblings Nicholas, 8, and Denise, 13, love WWE — especially John Cena. Ryan had a recent surgery on his hamstrings and heel cords, which helped him regain some ability to walk independently. This is a new procedure to treat kids with DMD, and Ryan was only the 3rd child to have this done. He had a difficult recovery, and was very much inspired by John Cena and his recovery from surgery and return to WWE action sooner than expected.
I gave him WWE cards and action figures as some of his rewards through his recovery and rehab, including playing John Cena's entrance music in the therapy appointment when he first stood up and walked following surgery. Ryan was expected to walk 50 feet by two weeks after his surgery in order to be discharged. He worked very hard and had great progress. On day seven, Ryan walked independently for 450 feet! These were his first steps in months. Ryan only regained temporary ability to walk and still uses his wheelchair, and will likely one day again be in his chair full-time. But he did make a successful recovery and a lot of progress.
The inspiration he received from his family and by using John Cena's recovery and WWE to help through rehab made a huge difference. Playing John Cena's music, WWE SmackDown vs. Raw on his Nintendo and watching wrestling DVDs I brought for his stay, brought a smile to his face every time through many tears and much discomfort in the hospital. In one picture, he is holding the belt I gave him after his surgery and declared him the "WWE Champion of the Tubiolo family!" He had that belt with him throughout his rehab and recovery.
When John Cena returned in the Royal Rumble, Ryan was floored with excitement, even stating "I wish we could have been there" when he won the Rumble. This gave me a great idea, just months before WrestleMania XXIV,to see if Make-A-Wish and WWE could set this [Wish] up. We were so pleased to hear of the partnership between the two organizations and that John Cena will be granting his 100th wish. This is truly a dream come true for Ryan.