Out of all the St. Louis fans, the Blues made sure they celebrated with 11-year old Laila Anderson after winning the Stanley Cup Finals Wednesday. Anderson, who is suffering from HLH, was invited to Game 7 in Boston, which the Blues won 4-1 over the Bruins for the first-ever championship in franchise history.
She was invited down to the ice, where Colton Parayko lowered Lord Stanley’s Cup down to her. She kissed it, leading to a raucous reaction from the rest of the team.
Here’s the video.
She first earned attention for her fandom when she needed a bone marrow donor in Nov. 2018, which she received the following month. Several Blues team members have accepted her as an unofficial member of the team during their postseason run. STL Today writes:
The 11-year-old Blues fan, who is fighting a rare disease, “has been an inspiration to all of us throughout the year,” said Blues forward Patrick Maroon, the St. Louis native. “Alex Steen has done a good job of bringing her and making her comfortable, Colton Parayko same way – making her feel welcome to the team. And the St. Louis Blues welcome her and her family. She’s a fighter, and she’s going to continue to fight. She’s our inspiration – we look up to her, what she has to go through every single day.
“To get on that plane, we know the doctors questioned getting her on there because of her health. To say that she gets to come and travel out here and see us play – I’m so happy for her.
“What she has to go through every single day is a lot tougher than what we have to do.”
Prior to Game 7, she was interviewed Fox 2 St. Louis. She told them that she didn’t want this experience to end.
“People have been waiting for 49 years for a day like this,” she said. “I’m just so grateful that I’ve gotten to experience it all. I never thought in a million years, in isolation, that I would be at Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals.”
A quarter of children afflicted with HLH, or Hemophagocytic Lymphohistiocystosis, don’t last beyond age five. For Anderson, she has battled through those expectations and is now a witness to a historic sports moment in St. Louis history.