Jake Smith, a 12-year-old wrestling fan from Darlington, County Durham, who is fighting leukaemia, and also has Down’s Syndrome, had his dreams come true after being surprised with the chance to meet two of his favourite WWE Superstars at the Metro Arena in Newcastle on Friday evening (12 May 2017).
Jake's mum Linda Smith was getting him ready for what he thought was a family trip out for dinner. But she then surprised Jake and let him know that not only were they going to watch WWE Live that evening - but that he was actually going to meet his wrestling heroes AJ Styles and Randy Orton too. His sister Melissa Smith, 20, captured Jake's priceless reaction on camera.
Jake is treated at Newcastle Royal Victory Infirmary (RVI), where CLIC Sargent, a cancer support charity for children and young people, has an independent team who help whole families manage the devastating impact of cancer on their lives with emotional and practical support. After hearing that Jake was a huge WWE fan, CLIC Sargent contacted WWE bosses who were more than happy to pull out all the stops for the young wrestling fanatic.
Jake was thrilled to meet his wrestling idols backstage ahead of the show, especially as the TV shows have played such a huge part in his life during his cancer treatment.
Linda Smith, Jake’s mum, explains:
“Jake is obsessed by WWE, it’s his favourite thing in the whole world.
“His WWE videos are on constantly when he’s in hospital, and they are the only thing that will calm him down and distract him when he has to have upsetting things done, like needles going in.
“We are so proud of our little superstar and grateful to WWE and CLIC Sargent for putting a big smile on our own little fighter’s face.”
Jake was diagnosed with leukaemia in October 2015, and Linda describes the first eight months of treatment as ‘horrific’. But he is now in the maintenance stage of chemotherapy, which means he spends most of his time at home rather than hospital, and is due to finish treatment in February 2018.
Last year CLIC Sargent supported over 7,100 young cancer patients across the UK. The charity’s nurses supported over a thousand patients, and its support workers awarded over £1.11 million in financial grants to help families and young people cope with the extra costs a cancer diagnosis brings, for example travel for specialist treatment which can be many miles from home.
CLIC Sargent’s independent teams in the North East work at the Royal Victoria Infirmary and Freeman Hospital in Newcastle. CLIC Sargent supported more than 808 children and young people with cancer like Jake in the region last year, and awarded over £127,000 in grants to help families deal with the financial impact of cancer.
CLIC Sargent’s research shows that children and young people with cancer in the North East can make on average a round trip of 64 miles to the Royal Victoria Infirmary, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, to receive treatment. Extra costs like paying for petrol and parking charges soon add up, meaning that on average, parents face additional living expenses of £600 a month when their child is in treatment. But the charity’s grant scheme helps relieve families of some of these financial pressures.
A spokesperson for CLIC Sargent said:
“Our support workers and nurses fight tirelessly for children and young people with cancer like Jake, who go through so much during treatment. We are so happy that AJ Styles and Randy Orton were able to grant wishes for our children during their UK tour, and thankful for WWE’s ongoing commitment to helping the dreams of children like Jake around the world come true.”
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