Natalya Neidhart: Giving back a new holiday tradition

Me and Titus O'Neil supporting families who are affected by breast cancer (our partnership with Susan G. Komen). (Supplied Photo)

Share Adjust Comment Print

While the holiday season can be a favourite time of year for many, for others it can be the most difficult.

The last holiday season was really hard on my family as it was our first one without my dad.  He was the person who was always at the centre of our dinner table to say grace, carved the turkey at Thanksgiving and saw the looks on our faces when we would open our gifts on Christmas morning.  My dad loved getting the biggest Christmas tree in the lot and every year we would have a party just to decorate it while listening to Christmas music and eating our favourite holiday cookies. Without my dad here with us celebrating, the holidays felt empty no matter how hard we tried to make the season bright.

Me with Titus O’Neil and Stephanie McMahon at a charity event talking “Connor’s Cure”, a foundation benefiting children’s cancer. We’ve raised over $3 million and counting! (Supplied Photo)

That’s why this holiday season I decided that I wanted it to feel different. I knew that we had to create some new traditions together as a family, and the decision was easy.  With as much community outreach work that we do in WWE (Connor’s Cure, Susan G. Komen, Special Olympics, Make A Wish), I also wanted to be able to give back to our local community where I live.

For years I had been collecting items in a storage room in my house. I had a huge box of WWE action figures, including dolls of my dad and I, along with other WWE merchandise such as shirts, hats, posters, ringside chairs, ornaments, video games, and things I had collected on numerous tours around the world that were piling up. I decided to donate them all (10 boxes!) to our local Salvation Army. So many people love WWE, but maybe don’t have the money to buy their child a toy or a T-shirt of their favourite WWE Superstar. It felt so good to drop off all the items and to be able to give back.  I knew that the items would make a huge difference to someone else’s life, especially to a child who maybe wouldn’t have a Christmas present because their parents couldn’t afford it.

Related

One of the most giving people I know, who inspires me to give more every day, is WWE Superstar Titus O’Neil. Titus spent his Thanksgiving this year feeding people in need. I asked him what inspires him to be so giving all year long. Titus answered: “I was the beneficiary of the charitable efforts of others that invested in me when they seemingly had nothing to gain in return. I wasn’t rich. I was a kid that constantly got into trouble and I was labelled a bad kid. They proved through their love and generosity that there’s no such thing as a bad kid. So in return, when I give back to the community, it’s my way of saying I believe in every single person out there. We can all work together to make this world a better place. It starts with kindness, giving and gratitude.”

Myself along with Titus O’Neil during the Wrestlemania Reading Challenge, where we pump kids up to read more throughout the year, and give away trips to WrestleMania! (Supplied Photo)

Titus added: “Giving back is important because many don’t have the ability to make ends meet financially, or even get enough to enjoy the holiday season as others do. I grew up poor and the holiday season wasn’t always a cheerful time for us. We couldn’t experience it like others could. I wanted to change that for my kids and myself as an adult. I give as much as I can, whether it’s time, money or resources and show gratitude year round because I’m grateful to be in this position. It’s much different than my upbringing, I can now be a giver of good to others.”

Titus is right. We always get more when we give back, especially during the holidays. In the words of Winston Churchill, “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”

Tweet your questions to @natbynature

Comments