Denna Laing joins her teammates for opening line-up announcements on 'Denna Day' at Warrior Ice Arena.
Fourteen months after the accident that would change her life forever, Denna Laing knew her recovery would be a metaphorical marathon, and not a sprint, but now, the former star of the Princeton Women’s Hockey team is prepping for a real, 26.2 mile marathon.
Laing, a New England native, began playing in the National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL) for the Boston Pride during the league’s inaugural season, fulfilling her dream of playing alongside Olympians like Hilary Knight and Brianna Decker. Tragically, she was injured while playing in the 2015 Women’s Winter Classic at Gillette Field. With limited mobility in her arms and legs, Denna knew her sports career would change, but would by no means be over.
Bobby Carpenter, a retired 18 year NHL veteran, caught marathon fever after completing his first Boston Marathon in 2016. In a race that means so much to so many, Carpenter, a long time friend of the Laing family and father of Alex Carpenter who also plays for the NWHL’s Boston Pride, wanted to find a way to make it mean even more. Inspired by Denna’s dedication to recovery, he wanted to make sure the marathon became one more milestone.
Denna was initially hesitant to accept Carpenter’s invitation to join him while he participated in the iconic race, “At first, I really didn’t know how I felt about it, just because I didn’t know how I was going to feel not having as active a role in the marathon,” Laing said.
But, ever the athlete, Denna knew it would be the next phase in her recovery, while also serving a purpose. Laing and Carpenter are running the race for Journey Forward, a non-profit organization dedicated to bettering the lives of those who have suffered a Spinal Cord Injury through an intense exercise program.
Finding time to train together has been difficult for the pair, but Denna’s not new to challenges. And while no one knows what Marathon Monday has in store for Laing and Carpenter, there is no doubt that Denna will conquer yet another obstacle on the route to a full recovery.