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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 11 December 2018

Crash survivor teen to meet WWE's John Cena at Saudi Royal Rumble

Make A Wish UAE helps Hamza's wish to meet wrestling star

<p>Hamza Alabbadi, a 13-year-old-who suffered a traumatic brain injury when he was hit by a car five years ago, will meet WWE star John Cena in Saudi Arabia. Leslie Pableo for The National</p>
Hamza Alabbadi, a 13-year-old-who suffered a traumatic brain injury when he was hit by a car five years ago, will meet WWE star John Cena in Saudi Arabia. Leslie Pableo for The National

March 8, 2013, started out like so many other Fridays had in the Alabbadi household.

Eight year-old Hamza headed to meet his friends in Abu Dhabi, as usual. Except this time, he did not return.

As he was crossing a car park near Capital Garden, Hamza was run over by a car.

He was left with a traumatic brain injury as a result and spent 45 days in a coma in ICU in Sheikh Khalifa Medical City, where he remained for nine months.

In the early days after Hamza’s accident, a doctor told his father, Mutaz Alabbadi, that he would never recover.

It took him three months to be able to communicate after he woke up, and he was completely paralysed on his right side initially. He later suffered a serious allergic reaction to anaesthesia during an operation which caused his heart to fail and his lungs to fill with water.

Yet today Hamza, who is now 13, can walk with assistance and talk, though he is still working on clear speech.

His father is confident that he will continue to recover.

“He is a fighter. Hamza has always been a fighter,” said Mr Alabbadi, 47, whose family is from Sudan.

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So it seems appropriate, then, that on Saturday he will meet one of his heroes, the wrestler John Cena in Saudi Arabia as part of his wish with Make A Wish UAE.

“His first wish is to meet John Cena. He developed a strength in the left side more than the right side, especially in the hand, so he wants to arm wrestle him” said Mr Alabbadi.

“Hamza’s second wish was to go for Umrah. So when they said John Cena is coming to Saudi Arabia [with WWE for the Greatest Royal Rumble event] he could get both wishes at the same time,” he added.

Hani AlZubaidi, chief executive of Make A Wish UAE, said Hamza’s wish is especially poignant since it will be the chapter’s 3,000th since it was founded in 2003, and it will coincide with World Wish Day on April 29.

He has also been waiting for the wish to be fulfilled for a couple of years.

“When we do international wishes we go through the international portal. He was number 27, I think,” said Melanie Raymer, marketing and communications manager at Make A Wish UAE.

“John Cena is a Make A Wish ambassador and he has granted over 500 wishes worldwide, so he is a big supporter of Make A Wish. When we knew John Cena was coming to Saudi we arranged it.”

She said the wish also ties in nicely with its current global Arm Wrestle Challenge.

“We are challenging the community to do an arm wrestle. So you can challenge anyone, your friend, your colleague at work, your boss, celebrities at work,” she said.

“It’s to show that it takes muscle in the form of community support. So we have asked people to take a video or a photo, upload it onto social media and hashtag us.”