Connor "The Crusher" 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 in April 2014 at the age of eight. WWE executives Triple H and Stephanie McMahon subsequently named the Connor's Cure charity in his honor and he is to posthumously receive the inaugural Warrior Award at the 2015 WWE Hall of Fame ceremony.
Connor Michalek was born in 2005 to parents Steve Michalek and Brittany Caligiuri. 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 Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. A superfan of WWE, he was also known by his wrestling "ring names", "Stone Crusher" or simply "The Crusher".
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 entitled "Help Connor meet Daniel Bryan". Within 48 hours WWE chairman and CEO Vince McMahon stated that Michalek would meet Bryan. Michalek met Bryan during a WWE Raw event at Pittsburgh's Consol Energy Center on December 18, 2012. Bryan met Michalek again on October 7, 2013, when Raw was in Pittsburgh. 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.
Death and legacy
On April 25, 2014, Michalek died at eight years old. WWE subsequently released a video in his memory, which went viral, featuring him interacting with numerous WWE stars during WrestleMania XXX weekend.
In June 2014, Triple H and Stephanie McMahon founded Connor's Cure in Michalek's memory, a non-profit charitable organization, which they have personally funded through Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh Foundation.
On March 9, 2015, WWE announced that Michalek would be honored at the 2015 WWE Hall of Fame induction ceremony. He will posthumously receive the inaugural Warrior Award, named after The Ultimate Warrior, and will be inducted by Daniel Bryan and Dana Warrior. The Warrior Award will be given to those 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."
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. In their response to Roberts's criticisms in April 2015, WWE stated Connor’s Cure "already raised more than $200,000". The organization reportedly had raised more than $630,000 by October 2015, and nearly $1 million by March 2016, having helped more than 100 families.
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.
In March 2016, WWE announced a partnership with The V Foundation, a foundation for cancer research created by late sports broadcaster Jim Valvano.