BOSTON -- With an inspiring story and boundless enthusiasm for her St. Louis Blues, 11-year-old Laila Anderson has become a celebrity super fan during the Stanley Cup playoffs. Now, she hopes that fame can help support the children's hospital that's helped her battle a rare disease.
The National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum in Milwaukee announced on Tuesday that it was producing a doll featuring Anderson, who is fighting hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis, a syndrome that attacks the immune system and has only been found in 15 other children in the world.
The St. Louis Children's Hospital will receive $5 from every bobblehead sold. The dolls sell for $25 and are available for presale on the Hall of Fame's website.
The bobblehead features Laila on a hockey-rink base. She's wearing a jean jacket, as she does to every Blues home game, and is holding a replica of a sign that she brought to a recent playoff game that reads "I'm Here Boys ... Let's Do This, (Love) Laila." There's also a bell she's ringing, which a replica of the one at the children's hospital that young patients ring when they finish their chemotherapy treatment.
"I'm really excited to be having my own bobblehead, especially since they support such a great cause," Anderson said. "Thank you to the St. Louis Blues and to hockey fans everywhere for all the love and support."
Anderson captivated hockey fans in a viral video that the Blues posted before Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals, when Laila's doctors cleared her to attend the playoff game and her mother surprised her with tickets. She's attended every Blues postseason home game since then, following months of confinement to either her home or the children's hospital after a bone marrow transplant.
Blues players have credited Anderson with inspiring them during their run to the Stanley Cup Final. She's met with them around games, has been featured on the Jumbotron to hype the crowd and even served as a reporter for local television stations to collect postgame quotes.
Defenseman Colton Parayko, who developed a friendship with Anderson in the last several months, said she's "a warrior" for battling through her treatments.
"We get to show up to the rink and be with the guys, do things like that. But you go to the hospital, and you speak with her, and you watch her go through all that stuff. I can't imagine what she's going through. What kinds of things they're putting in her body to try and help her recover," he said before Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final. "She continues to have a strong attitude. A positive attitude. It's so special. We might lose a hockey game, and we're frustrated or go home really upset. But there are people out there trying to battle for their lives."
The Bobblehead Hall of Fame has previously created charity bobbleheads for inspiring figures like Purdue super fan Tyler Trent and ESPN Special Olympics Analyst Daina Shilts.