In 2014, WrestleMania 30 contributed more than $142 million of economic impact to the New Orleans region. It's no surprise New Orleans was eager to welcome WWE and WrestleMania a second time, but WrestleMania's beneficial impact on a host city extends far beyond just economics.
As a component of its success, WWE's mission is to put smiles on people's faces. WWE feels a powerful responsibility to engage in positive social change, partnering with a wide range of non-profit organizations to help those in need.
WWE Superstars are everywhere in the community during WrestleMania Week, working to help inspire and empower. The kids at Woodland West Elementary School in Harvey know this well; during WrestleMania Week in 2014, WWE Superstars including Kofi Kingston helped build a brand new playground in partnership with KaBOOM! at the school. Kingston himself has roots here; he attended Lusher High School and his parents taught at Xavier and Loyola universities.
This year, WWE will continue to give back during WrestleMania Week by hosting and participating in dozens of local events including a veterans' employment panel with Hire Heroes USA, multiple hospital visits, a Be a STAR bullying prevention rally at a local Boys & Girls Club, a Susan G. Komen luncheon, a Special Olympics unified event, a First Book reading celebration and multiple events supporting Make-A-Wish.
In fact, the 2018 WrestleMania Reading Challenge, a partnership between WWE and First Book, which encourages youth literacy, is already underway. In January, WWE and NXT Superstars visited Bricolage Academy on Esplanade Avenue and Harold Keller Elementary in Metairie to read Trombone Shorty, New Orleans' musical superstar Troy "Trombone Shorty" Andrews' picture book about his childhood and career. During the six-week WrestleMania Reading Challenge, WWE and First Book donated 20,000 books to New Orleans area schools.
All of this is part of how WWE makes dreams — and wishes — come true. In the three decades since WWE partnered with Make-A-Wish, an organization that provides positive experiences to strengthen and empower kids battling critical illnesses, WWE Superstars have granted more than 6,000 wishes. John Cena's 16 world championships already place him in a super-elite class among performers, but when it comes to Make-A-Wish, he's in a class by himself. Cena holds the all-time record for wishes granted: more than 550 and counting!
If you watched WrestleMania 30, you may remember that after Daniel Bryan's spectacular championship victory in the main event, he embraced a child in the front row. This was a very special young member of the WWE Universe, Connor Michalek, who was living his best life despite medulloblastoma, a brain cancer that overwhelmingly affects children.
Connor forged deep friendships with many at WWE, including Daniel Bryan, Stephanie McMahon and Paul "Triple H" Levesque. Although Connor lost his battle to cancer in April 2014, Connor's Cure fund founded by Stephanie McMahon and Triple H continues to honor this brave fighter with an awareness and fundraising initiative that has raised more than $2 million dollars and helped more than 250 families affected by pediatric cancer so that no other children have to endure what Connor endured.
WWE's commitment to leveraging the power of its brand and platforms in the fight against cancer goes back many years, most notably with WWE's successful ongoing partnership with Susan G. Komen. WWE has raised more than $2 million dollars during Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October.
In 2016, WWE launched a collaboration with the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, focusing on bullying prevention and providing in-need youth with safe environments. Thanks to WWE's "Be a STAR" (Show Tolerance And Respect) initiative, more than 300,000 people from every U.S. state and 100 countries have pledged to end bullying. In late 2017, the Boys and Girls Clubs of America and the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence partnered to develop a new curriculum that is now available in the 4,300 Boys and Girls Clubs nationwide, as well as to teachers worldwide.
In 2015 and 2017 respectively, WWE Chairman & CEO Vince McMahon and WWE Executive Vice President of Talent, Live Events and Creative Paul "Triple H" Levesque were inducted into the Boys and Girls Club of America Hall of Fame. It's an example of how the power of social change comes full circle and the efforts of WWE continue to demonstrate this commitment in communities around the world.