For some celebrities, one of the many perks of being famous is getting the chance to meet their adoring fans. Dwayne Johnson can certainly attest to that, as he organized a set visit for a group of Make-A-Wish children on his latest movie. However, emotions ran high when the star revealed another surprise.
Born in May 1972, Johnson grew up in a wrestling family, with his father and grandfather enjoying successful careers inside the squared circle. As a youngster, though, he wanted to forge his own path, eventually joining the University of Miami’s college football team. Due to his athletic prowess and build, many saw a bright future for him in the sport.
However, Johnson’s progress was halted by injuries, which ultimately ended his hopes of having a career in football. With that in mind, he then turned his attention back to wrestling. He made his debut between the ropes in 1996 under the name Rocky Maivia. Unfortunately, though, those first few months in the World Wrestling Federation were far from easy.
Indeed, while Johnson was working as a babyface (the wrestling term used to describe a good guy), the crowds didn’t take to him at all. Before long, he was frequently greeted with the infamous chants of “Rocky Sucks” and “Die Rocky Die.” Despite all that grief, though, his life changed forever after picking up a knee injury in 1997.
After several months on the sidelines, Johnson returned with a bang, as he became The Rock. This persona allowed him to showcase his incredible charisma and personality, which quickly got the fans on his side. Before he knew it, the “People’s Champion” was soon looked upon as the biggest star in the company.
Over the next few years, Johnson created a legacy that few wrestlers could match, cementing himself as one of the most popular stars in history. However, in 2001 he started to explore other opportunities outside of the ring, taking a particular interest in acting. With that in mind, he made his big-screen debut in The Mummy Returns that year.
After that, Johnson didn’t look back, as he dropped The Rock name and moved into acting full time. The 46-year-old has since starred in a number of hugely successful movies, including the popular The Fast and the Furious franchise. Such is his popularity, it was announced in the summer of 2018 that he’s now the highest-paid actor in Hollywood.
Outside of the acting bubble, though, Johnson has an army of loyal fans on social media, following his daily posts with interest. Indeed, on Instagram he boasts close to 120 million followers, while his Facebook page has more than 58 million likes.
Alongside his success in show business, Johnson has a keen eye on charity work, starting the Dwayne Johnson Rock Foundation back in 2006. His efforts on that front don’t end there, though, as he also organizes a special day every year for the Make-A-Wish children who want to meet him. In 2018 he had something very interesting in mind.
“We are on the set of Jungle Cruise,” Johnson says in a YouTube video titled The Rock’s Jungle Cruise Make-A-Wish Day. “It’s a very exciting day. We have the Make-A-Wish kids here. It’s very very exciting, I’m honored that this is going to happen.”
“We are giving them the run of the set. I feel like Willy Wonka, and this is literally like a chocolate factory,” Johnson adds. “We have big surprises for them.” On that note, the video then cuts to the children arriving on the film set, exploring the vast areas available to them.
After that, Johnson meets the group and speaks to each child individually. They then head off to a booth to receive some stick-on tattoos reminiscent of their hero. From there, the kids gather on a sofa, with their parents close behind, as the actor reveals another big surprise for them.
“This is a Project Rock duffel bag from our collection with Under Armour, and inside I got you guys a bunch of gear, a bunch of clothes,” Johnson says. “Our good buddies at Atom Tickets, they heard you were coming to set. They were so stoked, and they wanted to do something special. So all of you guys have free movie tickets for an entire year.”
The surprises don’t end there, though, as Johnson continues to pull out more gifts. “[Disney] put together [some] really cool care packages,” he says. “There’s so much cool stuff in here.” After handing over those bags, the star then reveals his final presents to the group.
“My really good friends at Microsoft wanted to do something really cool,” Johnson continues. “This thing, it’s like, free games for a year, something like that. Oh, and one more thing, you have your very own Jungle Cruise Xbox One.” The star’s generosity certainly proved too much for some, as one mom was captured in tears of joy.
From there, Johnson gives some insight into his thinking on days like that. “The glitz and the glamour is always fun, and you know, delivering a movie to the world is always fun,” he says. “But this kind of stuff, where we’re delivering some happiness to kids who need it, and parents who need it. Very special.”
After spending a bit more time with the children, Johnson then concludes the warming video with some final words. “The kids say that I inspire them, which is awesome,” he adds. “But the irony of that is they have no idea, no clue how much they inspire me.”
The video was uploaded on Johnson’s official YouTube channel in September 2018, and has since earned more than 80,000 views and close to 4,000 likes. Meanwhile, the star also posted the clip on his Instagram page, which in turn garnered more than 500,000 likes from his followers.
However, after posting the video on social media, Johnson added a message, reiterating what he said on that special day. “Even though I was obviously there with the kids and parents, it’s hard for me to watch these without shedding a happy tear or two,” he wrote on Instagram.
“As a man, father and luckiest SOB on this planet, I can honestly say without no uncertain terms — to me, this will always be the best part of my job,” Johnson added. “The best part of fame. Stay strong families and thank you for choosing me as your ‘wish.’” They don’t call him the “People’s Champion” for nothing.