Chair Shot Reality is a video web show that has aired on WZ since the summer of 2009. One of its biggest fans is Trevor Ellison from Riverton, Wyoming. In December, Ellison was diagnosed with Hodgkins Cancer. CSR became aware of this as well as how significant it was to Ellison. They decided to do their own "make a wish" operation by bringing Ellison to Pittsburgh for a week long VIP experience of wrestling activities in support of Ellison and his battle.
Trevor wrote the following diary of his week in Pittsburgh which featured many unique experiences.
The Experience of A Lifetime by Trevor Ellison
Sometimes, human beings lose touch of what’s really important. When you have a life-altering medical situation, your perspective completely changes. And with that change, sometimes the most unexpected things can happen.
I, like many people, lived life thinking I was bulletproof and nothing could ever happen to me. That all changed on Nov. 17, 2013, when I found a large lump along my collar bone/neckline. Like most “tough guys,” I attributed this to a cold or something minor and went about my days. After about a week, upon the advice of family, I went to the doctor. After numerous tests and a biopsy surgery on my neck, I received the call that gave me the worst news of my life. On Dec. 10, I was diagnosed with Classic Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
Millions of thoughts raced through my head: Will I die and leave my wife and sons? Will I suffer? Where do I go next? Why me? Despite being assured by my oncologist that my condition would be 99 percent curable, I saw the road ahead of me. It meant the implantation of a power port in my chest in preparation for ABVD chemotherapy treatments, which I began on Jan. 8.
I wondered if anything good would happen to me after all this. Little did I know, it would be during all of this that I would receive the greatest gift of my life.
For years I have followed the work of Justin LaBar. Justin is a columnist, a radio host, a professional wrestling expert, and an up-and-coming force in the world of pro wrestling. I respected and enjoyed all of his work, especially his work on Trib Live Radio and Chair Shot Reality. I would sit in my office on Tuesday afternoons and listen to him give the most expert analysis of pro wrestling I had ever heard. I began to email the show. I was always so pleased to hear him read my emails on air, despite the fact that I was 1,800 miles away and he probably had a million others to read. I looked forward to faithfully watching each episode of Chair Shot Reality each weekend with my wife. Never would I have imagined that I could have the chance to meet Justin or be a part of any of this. I guess life is a lot like pro wrestling: Just when you think you know it all, you get the big swerve and are left with your mouth hanging open.
On Feb. 7, Justin LaBar reached out to my wife Amber through social media. I wasn’t privy to any of this and I wouldn’t be for awhile. He vaguely told Amber that he had some things in the works that he wanted to do for me but couldn’t quite let her know what they were. As they continued to talk, they formulated a plan for me. Justin, Brian Gulish and Josh Isenberg were going to record a special episode of Chair Shot Reality for me, send it to Amber, and she was going to film my reaction. This episode was more than just any other episode – it was a clip informing me they would be flying me to Pittsburgh to meet them, be a part of Chair Shot Reality and be a part of IWC’s Night of The Superstars 3.
I walked into my house on Feb. 27 to Amber saying that our big screen TV wasn’t working. I looked at her with a puzzled expression and told her she just needed to turn it on. As I did, I heard that classic Chair Shot Reality music. Amber pointed her phone at me, and I knew something was up. As I watched the video, which you can see on YouTube, I felt a rush of emotions. Tears filled my eyes as I heard these three gentlemen tell me that I would be the first ever special VIP guest of CSR. I couldn’t believe it.
Flash forward to April 9, and I knew it was time. I had finished my seventh chemotherapy the week prior and had regained all my energy for this epic date. My wife and I arrived in Pittsburgh at 3 p.m. I wish I had a camera on my face at that time. When I turned around and saw Justin walking into the airport, I knew it was all real. He came up to me like a friend who I hadn’t seen in years and embraced Amber and I like we were family. He swooped us up out of the airport and the most amazing trip of my life began.
The first stop on our journey was to Latitude 40. Featured on the show in the summer of 2013, Latitude 40 is one of the largest entertainment facilities I’ve ever visited. Featuring drinks, games, bowling and food, this place was like no other experience we have in quaint little Riverton, Wyoming. After an amazing hour-long visit, we all knew that we were going to click and have an unforgettable weekend.
From Latitude, we headed out to visit someone else I was dying to meet – Brian Gulish. Brian and I had connected through social media, and I was excited to finally introduce myself in person. Little did I know that he and his sweet wife Dayna would have an amazing five-star dinner cooked for Amber and I. Not long after we arrived, another new friend, Justin’s wife Rachel, stopped by. As we all sat around and enjoyed this beautiful dinner, I thought to myself, “Wow, what amazing people!” Stuffed from dinner, we all loaded up and traveled for some late night yogurt and chatting. Amber and I knew it was time to get us checked into our hotel but Justin wanted to give us the scenic tour first. On this scenic route, I recorded a great video documenting our experience of seeing Downtown Pittsburgh at night for the first time. It was another moment I will never forget.
I woke up Thursday morning refreshed and ready for the day knowing that it would include the CSR taping. I got my clothes ready and my nerves grew with each passing second. I didn’t want to disappoint or mess up in any way during this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and Amber reassured me I wouldn’t. Justin arrived to pick us up with a smile and off we went. We had an amazing lunch together at Bettis’s on the river and the sun shined as bright as Amber’s and my smiles. After lunch we headed to the Trib offices for a short interview Justin had to conduct. This was not your ordinary interview though – it was with adult film stars Gianna Michaels and Sophie Dee. Watching Justin work was like watching Michael Jordan shoot fadeaways. He has so much charisma and flair on the radio that he was making two adult stars blush like little school girls. It’s that charisma that makes Justin the guy he is and also why he is such a success.
From the Trib, we travelled to the studio at Point Park University. I sat in the green room with Justin getting suited up for the show, my nerves were going nuts.
In walked Josh Isenberg followed by Brian and Dayna, and I knew the time was near. Turned out, my nerves were for nothing. We all went out and absolutely killed it on every angle. Everyone was in sync, every segment went perfectly, and it was like we were meant to be a team. I had never been more excited to do something before, and it was one of the most memorable experiences of my life. Seeing all the work that goes into this show is absolutely unreal. These guys work their butts off. Leaving the show I felt proud, excited and sad that it was done, but I knew that this amazing weekend was far from over. We walked a few blocks down and had some absolutely killer Mexican food at Las Velas, and I knew it was time to get some rest after this epic day.
Friday morning brought rains to Pittsburgh but not to our spirits. Amber and I woke up invigorated and ready for another memorable day. Justin picked us up and we headed to one of the most amazing lookout points I have ever seen. Mount Washington. We got some great photos together. The smile on Amber’s face as I took her picture with Justin was incredible. As hard as this fight with cancer has been on me, it has been far harder on her. She has been an absolute angel and soldier all in one, taking care of me every second of every day. She deserved these moments even more than I did.
After some sightseeing and wonderful lunch, the girls went to go get massages, and Justin and I headed for some homie time. Shopping at Toys R Us for my boys then having a drink at the Monkey Bar with Justin turned out to be some of the most heartfelt times we had together. We talked about our lives and our pasts and continued to grow our friendship. For dinner, Justin and Rachel took us to one of the most amazing dining experiences of my life. Wintzell’s seafood restaurant is an absolute diamond, spot on drinks, spot on food, and spot on service. If anyone reading this is in Pittsburgh, please go eat there for me because it is magical. After a wonderful dinner, we headed back for an evening of games and fun. One of the most memorable parts of my trip was kicking back Bud Lights and wine and beating Amber and Rachel senseless at whatever game we played. I guess it is that CSR bond that we have. Justin and I were unbeatable and left the women speechless! As Rachel and Amber read this I know they will want to slap me, but hey that’s the American Dream baby, just ask Justin.
Saturday morning brought sunshine through my hotel window and I knew it was time for IWC Night of the Superstars 3. Amber and I put on our Reality Check T-shirts in support of Justin as he walked into this big night with so much pressure on him. As we drove that interstate together, I saw a different Justin: an absolutely focused yet nervous Justin and I just wanted my friend to know that we were there for him.
We arrived at the arena, and immediately I was treated like a king. I looked at the 2,000 fans lined up to get in this event as I walked in the back door with my friend to the locker room. Every IWC wrestler and crew member came up and shook my hand with nothing but respect. I got to meet another gentleman that I had waited to meet, Chuck Kuzniewski, owner of IWC and one of the reasons I was at the show. He was an absolutely amazing guy and he treated me like family. I got to meet many wrestlers, but one in particular who made my day was Matt Striker. Justin had told me that Matt was excited to meet me but little did I know he would be this great. He sat with Amber and I for over 30 minutes talking and listening to my story, which brought him to tears. He told me his match that night was for me and he would wear my Hodgkin’s bracelet to the ring as a show of respect for my journey.
Soon, I was given yet another once-in-a-lifetime chance. They asked me to be the special guest ring announcer for Striker’s match. Those CSR nerves flared up again, but I composed myself and got ready for the show. The show was absolutely fantastic from top to bottom but one moment stood out the most: watching my friend Justin walk down the aisle and captivate that audience more than anyone else on the card. I watched Justin control the crowd like he was Paul Heyman, and it was magical. After Justin played the crowd like a vintage fiddle, I knew that it was time for me to step in that ring. As I was announced, it felt like my heart was going to burst from my chest, but I composed myself and did an amazing job. I never got to step in the squared circle before and it was as exhilarating as I had thought it would be. Thanks again for that moment, Chuck and Justin, it was magic.
The show finished out and sadness took me over. I knew that this was the end for Justin, Rachel, Amber and I, as they had to stay at the show’s location for the evening. I never thought it would have been that hard to say goodbye to my friends, but trust me, it was. I left that arena in Meadville that night with a heavy heart that still is weighing in my chest. I then hit the road with Brian, Dayna and Amber and we laughed and told stories all the way back to Pittsburgh. It was just another memorable moment with all of our new friends, and we will never forget it.
Sunday morning ushered in one of the saddest feelings of my life. I knew this was the day that we would be leaving and saying bye to all of our other new friends. Dayna picked us up at the hotel for some mid0day shopping and brunch before we departed. When we hit the airport, that same sadness hit as we hugged Dayna for that final goodbye. We flew out of Pittsburgh with eyes full of tears.
I could never write enough words to express my thanks to my CSR family. I flew into Pittsburgh a cancer fighter and survivor and left it the same way, but now with some of the most amazing friends I could ever have. Justin, Rachel, Brian and Dayna: You guys gave Amber and I the most amazing trip of our lives, and we will eternally be there for you if there is ever anything you need. We love you all and we can’t wait until the day we can see you again.
Thanks, my friends, and much love from Riverton, Wyoming.