Sunday was Denna Day for the Boston Pride of the NWHL in honor of Denna Laing, a Pride player who suffered a devastating spinal injury at the first Outdoor Women’s Classic at Gillette Stadium on Dec. 31, 2015. As a result of the injury, Laing lost the ability to walk and reported limited arm movement at first, though her work in a rehabilitation facility has seen her improve her arm strength and movement.
The hockey community has joined together to encourage and support Denna on her road to rehabilitation and recovery. The Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens of the NHL, the entire NWHL and CWHL have held fundraisers for Laing, as well as donated proceeds of the sale of Laing-branded merchandise.
The Pride in particular have been deeply affected by the on-ice loss of one of their own and have set up stations at games for fans to make and deliver cards to Laing in the rehab facility.
And @dlaing14 also coming out for pregame fistbumps on #DennaDay #NWHL pic.twitter.com/q4B174Hiox
— Meg Linehan (@itsmeglinehan) February 14, 2016
While proceeds from the day were to go to Laing, no one expected what happened just before the game.
In a surprise appearance, Laing came out onto the ice to join her team, the Boston Pride, in the huddle before her team took the ice against the Connecticut Whale. Laing rode out in a motorized wheelchair, and gave fistbumps and hugs to each of her teammates before puck drop, done by her sisters, Brianna and Lexie Laing.
#NWHL It's #DennaDay in Boston and a very special guest showed up to root on the Pride. 👋 @dlaing14! pic.twitter.com/2tlygERfwF
— NWHL Gifs (@nwhlgifs) February 14, 2016
Donations can be made to the Denna Laing Fund, which was set up to help mitigate financial impediments as Laing continues to rehabilitate and recover.