The St. Louis Blues won their first Stanley Cup on Wednesday night, but one of the best parts of their championship run didn’t unfold on the ice. It’s the story of Laila Anderson, an 11-year-old superfan who has become an inspiration for the team — and even got to celebrate with the players in their moment of glory.
Laila is fighting hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis, or HLH, a rare and life-threatening immune disease, but she’s been faithfully cheering on the Blues throughout the playoffs. She interviewed player Alexander Steenafter the Blues punched their ticket to the finals, and revved up the crowd before Game 3 in St. Louis.
Before the final game, the Blues surprised her with a chance to go to Boston to watch in person. If you think a Stanley Cup victory is emotional, the video of the moment Laila’s mother tells her she can go to Game 7 will send your heart into orbit.
As the St. Louis Blues celebrated their championship, they invited Laila down the ice, and she and her favorite player, defenseman Colton Parayko, shared a beautiful Stanley Cup moment.
“She is so special, everything about her,” Parayko said after the game. “She is such a warrior. She perseveres through everything. She is going through such a battle. I was happy to be with her today for this moment. It was special to me.”
According to ESPN hockey reporter Emily Kaplan, Laila even called the opening goal of the game, telling her mom, Heather, that Ryan O’Reilly would score first. Sure enough, O’Reilly not only scored the first goal, he was also named the NHL playoff MVP.
Laila first became famous in the Blues universe when her family started looking for a bone marrow donor for her in 2018. Her status as a superfan caught the attention of the team, and the Blues hosted a “Be the Match” event at a home game in November, where fans could sign up for a bone marrow donor registry.
Blues players have adopted Laila as an unofficial member of the team, and Steen has told the 11-year-old she was their “lucky charm” for the playoffs.
“They have done so much for me that they don’t know, and to know that I can repay them, that means so much to me,” Laila said during a postgame interview. “I couldn’t thank them enough for helping me get through my fight.”
Now that the Blues are champions, Laila has become a social media sensation, and people from the hockey community and beyond are sending their love and support.
After all, she’s a fighter, just like her favorite team. And now it’s her turn for a little good luck.