HAMPTON TOWNSHIP (KDKA) — The life of an 8-year-old boy battling cancer touched many people.
Anyone who ever met Connor Michalek could tell stories of his brave battle. Now family members are sharing their memories of the little boy after he passed away on Friday.
“Connor would go do his chemo, go to school, go to baseball,” said Sandy Stritzinger, Connor’s great aunt. “He loved baseball. He loved wrestling. He loved the beach.”
To WWE wrestlers, Connor is known as “Stone Crusher.”
The 8-year-old from Hampton Township met his hero Daniel Bryan in Pittsburgh in 2012. More recently, he traveled to Washington DC and then to New Orleans for WrestleMania.
“If he heard a guy’s music, he could tell you who it was within the first two seconds of the guy’s music. He knew every guy. He knew everything about them,” Matt Stritzinger, Connor’s cousin, said. “His memory was just crazy.”
“The doctors were saying that they couldn’t believe that this kid was still living, but they didn’t realize that through wrestling that he was able to just thrive on their energy,” said Steve Michalek, Connor’s grandfather.
Doctors diagnosed Connor with medullablastoma, a cancer in the brain, when Connor was just 3. He fought for five years, until cancer claimed his life Friday.
“I feel so bad for my son for the simple fact that Connor was his son, his best friend and the love of his life, and he’s gone now,” said Steve.
Yet through it all, there was never a complaint — no feeling sorry for himself.
“When people met Connor, it was just like they would light up. He was just infectious — his laugh, his smile, his drive. He never… he just never gave up,” added Gwen Michalek, Connor’s aunt.
“Mothers brought their children, young children to say goodbye to him, and you never see that at a funeral. Never,” said Steve. “He touched so many different people. My heart’s broken. That’s all I can say.”
“I’m used to talking to him every day, and it’s going to be hard not doing that,” added Sandy. “He left us too soon.”