It has been an emotional week for Bianca Belair. The "EST of NXT" was part of the first televised match for the brand's debut on USA Network. A fatal four-way battle that also involved Mia Yim, Io Shirai and Candice LeRae. Putting everything into her efforts to make a solid first impression combined with the mental preparation of living up to expectations certainly can take a toll on an individual.
However, the stress washed away as NXT superstar's face lit up walking through the Disney World Resorts Grand Atrium at Orlando Health Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children. That's because herself along with the Street Profits' Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins and Jessi Kamea were visiting rooms of kids who could use a little sunshine in their day.
The group from the yellow brand took photos, signed autographs and delivered replica WWE championships. The event coincides with the company's overall efforts in visiting hospitals and drawing attention to Connor's Cure throughout September and Pediatric Cancer Month.
The organization was created by Stephanie McMahon and Paul "Triple "Levesque in support of pediatric cancer research. The couple were touched by WWE Warrior Award recipient and fan Connor Michalek, who passed in 2014 after a valiant cancer fight. The visual of Daniel Bryan celebrating his underdog WWE heavyweight title win with Connor at ringside after the main event of WrestleMania 30 remains one of the most heartwarming visuals in WWE history.
"Today is a very special day," Belair said. "A big part of our job is trying to bring smiles to kids' faces. That's what we are going to try to do. We're also here to raise awareness for pediatric cancer in an effort to raise money for Connor's Cure and the V Foundation.
"Being a WWE superstar, we hold a huge responsibility with what we do. One of the main things we want to do is entertain people and put smiles on kids' faces. That's a big responsibility for us and what we strive to do every day. I'm just happy to be here."
This was Belair's first time visiting hospital rooms. Although in the past she joined WWE superstars in the past for Give Kids the World Village and other worthwhile charities and organizations. It's even more meaningful for her is being able to share the experience with husband Ford.
"Any chance I get to do something with him, it's always a blessing that we get to do this together," she said.
The Street Profits have been gaining momentum on WWE programming from Raw, SmackDown and monthly big shows. However, the former NXT tag champs say they will always bleed black and yellow. Dawkins, a tenured member of the roster, admittedly wasn't sure an opportunity like the one he is taking advantage of would ever come. Days like this really put things in perspective for him and Ford.
"We're here to spread our energy and perseverance to these young individuals," Ford added. "We're spreading joy and want to give them give them a symbol and token of how we appreciate them…It's always good to spread good energy and get it back in return."
Assistant manager Jeanine Clapsaddle can see the impact having these hospital visits can have on the patients. A few minute interaction can create an unforgettable memory.
"I love that they're here because sick children deserve to be inspired and engaged and cared about," she said. "When celebrities take their time to see these children and be present for them with really nothing to gain out of it. I really think that we as good human beings should be doing regardless of who we are.
"So for them to take time out to do this is really inspiring. Even for me as I am always looking to grow my sense of volunteerism outside the hospital. It also strikes up conversations with the kids where it's, 'Hey, did you see who was here today.' It's nice to have that follow-up conversation and be in the wave of that child's enthusiasm."
For more information on Connor's Cure and the V Foundation's fundraising and awareness efforts, visit https://www.v.org/connor/. WWE Shop is also selling a variety of Connor's Cure branded merchandise from t-shirts to championships with proceeds benefiting their efforts.