When Cheeseburger was approached by Women of Honor star Sumie Sakai about joining her for a fundraiser she was looking to organize for a young girl battling cancer at Ring of Honor’s two big shows this coming weekend, the crowd favorite did not hesitate to say yes.
At the Final Battle pay-per-view Dec. 15 in New York City and ROH’s international TV taping Dec. 16 in Philadelphia, Sakai and Cheeseburger will be raising money to help the family of 9-year-old Samarra Pirrong -- Sammy for short -- with medical and other expenses by selling “Sammy Strong” bracelets at the merchandise table for $5. Anyone who purchases a bracelet or makes a donation will get their photo taken with Sakai and Cheeseburger. All of the proceeds go directly to Sammy and her family.
“I found out about Sammy through Sumie. I would always see Sumie write messages of encouragement and support for her,” Cheeseburger said. “Before the last Philadelphia show [in October], we talked about Sammy and I found out she would actually be visiting to see Ring of Honor. I was surprised to learn that she was actually a fan of mine as well.
“When Sumie approached me with the idea to help raise money for the #SammyStrong fundraiser during Philadelphia and New York, I was happy to jump on board and do anything I could to help out Sammy and her family.”
This past July, Sammy was diagnosed with stage IV Wilms Tumor, a type of cancer that starts in the kidneys. Over the past several months, Sammy has undergone multiple surgeries in which her tumors and right kidney were removed and a feeding tube was inserted. She’s also endured chemotherapy and radiations treatments and had about 30 blood transfusions.
Sakai learned of Sammy on Twitter and reached out to her. Sakai has visited Sammy at her home and at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and she keeps in touch with Sammy and her mother via text messages. When ROH held a live event in Philadelphia in October, Sakai arranged for Sammy and her family to be her guests at the show and meet all the stars of ROH, including Cheeseburger.
“She was an absolute sweetheart,” Cheeseburger said. “She was so happy to meet all of the Ring of Honor men and women. I gave her a personalized 8x10 as a gift, and she gave me a big hug in return. TV days are very hectic so I was disappointed we did not have more time to talk. I'm looking forward to meeting her again in the future.”
Like many people, cancer has touched Cheeseburger’s own family, so he can sympathize with what Sammy and her family are going through.
“Several of the women in my family have had cancer,” he said. “My mother is a survivor of breast cancer herself. In 2015, she had surgery. Thankfully, it was caught early enough and doctors were able to remove it.
“I’m ecstatic to help out in any way possible. I’m happy Ring of Honor has allowed myself and Sumie to assist with the #SammyStrong fundraiser. In the end, we hope this will encourage more people to donate and support Sammy as well.”
If you’d like to make a donation to Sammy’s GoFundMe campaign, click here