Forest WWE fan gets wish granted by Kids

Special to The Times

Kids Wish Network

Markel Smith of Forest is a WWE fanatic! He watches all WWE programming on TV. It’s a happy distraction from all the challenges and procedures he endures with cerebral palsy and static encephalopathy.

Kids Wish Network, a children’s charity that grants wishes for kids with life-threatening illnesses, recently sent Smith to experience the live action of WWE Friday Night SmackDown at the FedExForum in Memphis. Smith also experienced his own victory before the main event hanging with WWE superstar Roman Reigns.

He was beaming meeting Reigns. They spoke, took pictures together, and Reigns had gifts that he signed for Smith including a WWE shirt, hat and official program. “Roman Reigns was very compassionate, he was a sweetheart,” said Smith’s mom Tekeyla. “The opportunity for Markel to meet him is a lifetime memory. He was so excited and smiling so hard, he couldn’t believe it. It was a priceless moment.”

Afterward, his family experienced all the ring’s electrifying action from front row seats.

During Smith’s wish, his family enjoyed luxurious accommodations provided by The Hotel Napoleon, Ascend Hotel Collection. He felt like a champion during his warm welcome by staff who lined up to greet him while the WWE fight song played. He was also gifted a WWE replica championship title belt to wear during his big night meeting Roman Reigns.

“He felt like he was famous,” said his mom. “He was so happy, the hotel staff all talked about his smile.” He also had memorable dining experiences at his favorite restaurant Applebee’s, and Mellow Mushroom who gave him a t-shirt to remember his special visit. 

“This was a one-in-a-million time, it was amazing,” said his mom. “Everyone went above and beyond,  they made our hearts so happy.”

“Markel lit up with excitement when he found out he was going to a live WWE event, and meeting Roman Reigns was more than he could have dreamed of,” said Kids Wish Network Executive Director Tam Lai.