As chief brand officer for the WWE, Stephanie McMahon has made a career out of being tough. But when she met Connor Michalek in January, she instantly melted. The 8-year-old talked his way backstage after a WWE event and charmed the tights off of every wrestler there. When Connor passed away three months later after a four-year battle with brain cancer, Stephanie felt compelled to honor him. So she and her husband Paul “Triple H” Levesque founded Connor’s Cure, a fund that supports pediatric cancer research.
OK!: What struck you about Connor?
Stephanie: He looked physically sick—there was a giant scar running up the back of his neck and a big bulge on his head—but he had so much personality and energy. He never stopped talking.
OK!: How did he impact the wrestlers?
Stephanie: As [WWE Superstar] Daniel Bryan said, to know Connor was to love him. We invited him to an event… and all the Superstars surrounded the ring and started chanting his name.
OK!: Why did you start Connor’s Cure?
Stephanie: I kept thinking, What can we do? Connor’s message was to embrace life and give love unconditionally. If we could all do that, the world would be a better place.