Diego's Dreams

By  | 

STAUNTON, Va. (WHSV) — UPDATE (May 24):

On May 24, a dream of 12-year-old Diego Hernandez came true.

Diego lives in Staunton and has a terminal medical condition called craniosynostosis that affects skull and brain growth.

Since a stroke at the age of nine, he has had six major surgeries to try and lengthen his life, but doctors recently told his family that his condition is terminal and he won't be having more operations.

But he said he's feeling "good."

He's feeling even better now after getting to meet his idol.

On Monday, Diego told WHSV he's staying tough like his hero, John Cena. Once that story was posted, people across the nation were inspired by Diego, hoping his wish would come true.

A video posted by Cena's friend, John Burk, led to an outpouring of donations, with more than $6,000 raised for Diego's family. And then came more tweets, from celebrities and people from all walks of life across the country.

It all led up to Cena knocking on Diego's door on Friday morning.

"I know I'm early," Cena said when he walked in ahead of Diego's birthday coming up on June 1.

But that didn't seem to be too much of a problem, because Diego was all smiles, as was his entire family, and the community, who gathered outside to meet Cena after he spent an hour talking with Diego and giving him signed WWE gifts and party favors.

He gave him action figures, hats, wrist bands, and even his very own Universal Champion belt.

Diego wanted to meet John Cena, but John Cena told us he wanted to meet Diego even more.

"Never underestimate the power of kindness," Cena said. "He just has such a kind outlook on life and I think that's amazing. And that power of kindness brought me here today to him."

We asked Diego how it made him feel when Cena said Diego was his hero. "Happy," he said.

"For him to come here just to see my son is amazing and I definitely want to thank him and show a lot of love and let people know what a great man he is to come here, for one little boy's dreams to come true," said Wendy Seekford, Diego's mother.

Diego will celebrate his 13th birthday on June 1 — and he has another big dream he hopes will come true. He'd like to go to a Washington Redskins game.

You can find a photo slideshow of the meeting below, and an extended video of the meeting above here.

Diego's family has a GoFundMe where you can donate to support them here.

____________

ORIGINAL STORY (May 20):

Diego Hernandez is 12 years old. He likes Spongebob, ice cream and most of all WWE.

"I don't know what else to describe him as," Hernandez's mother Wendy Seekford told WHSV. "Other than just happy."

Hernandez stays positive in the face of adversity.

"His first surgery was at eight days old," Seekford said.

At birth, Hernandez was diagnosed with craniosynostosis, a condition that causes problems with brain and skull growth. At just nine days old, he suffered a stroke.

Since then, he's had six major surgeries to try and lengthen his life, but doctors recently told his family that his condition is terminal and he won't be having more operations.

"His spine is growing into the skull, which there is nowhere else to go," Seekford said. "We did not know that his conditional was really gonna ever be terminal."

But Hernandez says that he's feeling "good."

"To say that he's been through so much and be as happy as he is in his life is amazing," Seekford said.

Hernandez hopes that is story inspires others, but he's also hoping that on June 1, he can have a John Cena themed birthday party."

"John Cena is the best," Hernandez told WHSV. "I like to watch WWE and I want to have my birthday party at WWE."

Hernandez's family wants to make the most of the time they have left with him.

His family has set up a GoFundMe donation page, which you can donate to here.

The family is hoping to fund special activities for Hernandez to enjoy through the rest of his life. While they are currently focused on planning his birthday party, they'd also like to take him to a Redskins game and elsewhere.

Seekford hopes that they can find people to help fund his birthday party or even someone to provide a venue for the birthday party.

"To think that I've had him for almost 13 years is amazing," Seekford said. so I'll take every day that I can get with him."

Hernandez says his ultimate wish is to meet John Cena.

Hernandez's advice for others that may be going through a similar situation is to "be tough" like his idol John Cena.