On Monday, the St. Louis Blues picked up their Stanley Cup rings in a private ceremony. The rings, each of which costs between $20,000 to $25,000, pay homage this year to Laura Branigan's "Gloria," the Blues' victory song, and Laila Anderson, the super fan who inspired the team to triumph last season.
The team, not wanting to leave their inspiration out of the celebration, decided to also give Laila her very own ring. In a video shared on Twitter on Tuesday, Blues players Alex Steen and Colton Parayko deliver a custom ring to Laila’s home in Missouri. Her reaction, as expected, was heartwarming and emotional.
"You know how much you mean to us, right, and what an inspiration you've been to so many people," Steen told Anderson. "So me and Colton are here and representing our organization and everybody there, and we have something that we would like you to open right now."
Laila, 11, became a viral sensation during the team's 2019 postseason run. After a long battle with HLH, a rare auto-immune disease that almost cost Laila her life, she was invited to attend a Blues game during the Western Conference Finals. Her reaction, shared online, moved not only fans but people around the world.
From then on, Laila became a fixture at the Blues' home playoff games until the end of the season. She was an inspiration to the team who fought hard to win Game 7 of the Cup Final. After the victory, she was invited by the team to travel with them to Boston, where they won their first Stanley Cup. During the post-game celebration, Laila came onto the rink where she joined the team in giving Lord Stanley a kiss.
Laila would undoubtedly remember this season fondly regardless of her ring, but the sentiment attached, and the love shown to her by the team will be a memory she will cherish for a lifetime. Laila and the Blues will raise St. Louis' championship banner today before the matchup with Washington. The Blues will enter 2019-20 hoping to become the NHL's second back-to-back champion this millennium, joining the 2016 and 2017 Penguins.
According to the National Institutes of Health, all forms of HLH, including cases treated adequately, have a high mortality rate. The long-term outlook of familial forms without treatment is poor, with a median survival of less than two months to 6 months after diagnosis, while with treatment, the five-year survival rate is 21-26%.