Why I’m Running: Kelly Cooke is running Boston for Denna Laing

"I am running so that one day we can finish what we started and skate across frozen Gillette Stadium again."

Kelly Cooke and Denna Laing. —Courtesy

In our “Why I’m Running” series, Boston Marathon runners share what’s inspiring them to make the 26.2-mile trek from Hopkinton to Boston on April 16, 2018. Editor’s note: Due to the number of submissions already received, we are no longer accepting entries for this year’s race.

Name: Kelly Cooke
Age: 27
From: Boston
Bib #: 26801

I’m running for those who can’t. I’m running for those who were running just yesterday but can’t run today. I’m running so that spinal cord injuries don’t take that away in the blink of an eye.

Just 833 days ago, we were skating around Gillette Stadium in the first-ever Women’s Outdoor Classic –a cross-border matchup between the Boston Pride and Les Canadiennes. It was a dream come true for any hockey player, but especially those of us who were born and raised in Boston. But like most stories of perseverance do, this one began with tragedy when Denna went into the boards and suffered a spinal cord injury. After 14 years, December 31, 2015 was the last time Denna and I skated together.


But it was also the day that Denna showed the hockey community and the world what humility, grit, and perseverance look like. She faced this unexpected and new challenge head on, rallying support from hockey players and fans alike. Not only has Denna brought awareness and hope to the SCI community, but she has also inspired countless young athletes to never give up and to embrace every opportunity with the same unrelenting passion.

Denna Laing and Kelly Cooke at Gillette. —Courtesy

I am running for someone who has given every piece of herself to others, before and after her spinal cord injury. I am running because every step I take is one step closer to finding a cure for the humble and inspiring warriors in the SCI community.

I am running because Denna has showed the world that limits are meant to be broken and that an amazing attitude can unite an entire community through one story.

And most of all, I am running so that one day we can finish what we started and skate across frozen Gillette Stadium again.

Check out our entire “Why I’m Running” series.


Editor’s note: Entries may have been lightly edited for clarity or grammar.