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Blues superfan Anderson thrilled to be part of victory celebration

Eleven-year-old rides in parade, gives Stanley Cup kiss at rally

by Tracey Myers @Tramyers_NHL / Staff Writer

ST. LOUIS -- Laila Anderson stood on stage in the shadow of the Gateway Arch, the 11-year-old's cheeks flushed from the sun as the crowd chanted, "Laila! Laila!"

"I mean, this is unbelievable. Unreal," Anderson said to broadcaster John Kelly at the St. Louis Blues Stanley Cup parade and rally on Saturday. The Blues celebrated their first Cup since joining the NHL in 1967.

Anderson, who has hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis, a severe systematic inflammatory syndrome that can be fatal, has been an inspiration all season for the Blues. Anderson and her family were also part of the parade, riding in a white car along the route that ran on Market Street from 18th to Broadway. Her car stopped a few times as Anderson did impromptu interviews.

Video: Laila Anderson hoists the Stanley Cup on stage

"I'm feeling great," said Anderson, who was thrilled to be a part of the festivities. "I mean, just to watch the St. Louis Blues do it all is enough for me. But to have them want me here is just so surreal."

Anderson's name was also chanted on the parade route, where she waved to fans and tossed 'Swab for Laila' bracelets to the crowd. Be the Match helped find Anderson a donor, and she had a bone marrow transplant in January.

Beth Ladd of St. Louis was wearing one of the bracelets.

"She's such an inspiration and it's so amazing to see what she's experienced," Ladd said. "I actually went to school to work with kids with cancer. It didn't work out that way, but just to see how much she's enjoyed this and is a part of this is so cool. It's so amazing. I'm so happy for her."

Video: Laila Anderson attends Blues Championship Parade

At the rally, Blues defenseman Robert Bortuzzo helped lift the Cup with Anderson, who gave it a kiss. Defenseman Colton Parayko, who lifted the Cup with Laila after the Blues defeated the Boston Bruins 4-1 in Game 7 of the Final at TD Garden in Boston on Wednesday, said Anderson has, "shown so much to our team."

"She's a special individual," Parayko said at the rally. "Everything about her is awesome."

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