Category Archives: SCI Superstars

SCI Superstar: Denna Laing

A former pro-hockey player injured a little over a year ago, Denna Laing is proving to the world that hockey players really are some of the toughest people in the world. Not letting her injury keep her down, she’s impressed the world with her fierce attitude in rehab, and even the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation has taken notice.

Awarded the Dana Reeve Hope Award last month, Denna’s spirit is profound for someone so newly injured. Read on to see how despite her severe diagnosis, she’s proving there’s always room for hope.

Why she’s fearless

At 25 years old, Denna’s fearless attitude has been a part of her personality ever since she was a little girl. Growing up in a hockey family, with her dad and sisters all playing hockey too, she learned to skate towards her fears and to never back down from a challenge.

Injured while playing for the Boston Pride, a NHL women’s hockey team, she fell after the first period. In addition to not being able to walk, her left arm is now stronger than her right, which has forced her to become a lefty. Denna is determined to put as much effort as she can into rehab.

Losing the ability to play hockey like she used to however will certainly be an adjustment. Playing hockey since she was a little girl, Denna played hockey in high school at Nobles & Greenough School in Dedham, MA, graduating in 2011. After high school, she was off to attend Princeton University and play on their women’s hockey team.

At Princeton, she was the captain of the team during the last two years she played, and frequently managed to get hat-tricks. A forward with an aggressive edge, Denna was a player you knew you to not mess with. After college, she played for C.W.H.L.’s Boston Blades in 2014, and then signed as a practice squad member for the Boston Pride in 2015, the team’s inaugural season.

When a few of the team players who were also on the national team had to leave for training, Denna was called up. This was also when the team was invited to play in the Outdoor Women’s Classic on New Year’s Eve 2016; a historical game in that it was the first outdoor women’s pro-hockey game sanctioned by the NHL. Unfortunately, this was also the game Denna was injured. She broke her C4-6 vertebrae in a collision at the end of the second period, and was diagnosed with severe spinal cord injury.

Regardless of her unknown recovery prospects, she has shown an impressive strength that has inspired thousands following her around the globe. She went to Spalding Rehab for several months, and now attends Journey Forward, an activity-based rehab center in Boston.

What’s next?

Denna’s upbeat spirit garnered the attention of the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation recently, who were searching for people to give their annual Dana Reeve Hope award. After reading an article on her tough attitude and tireless efforts towards in rehab, written by NHL writer Amalie Benjamin (read here, they selected her as their 2016 recipient. Denna has also quickly become an advocate for people with spinal cord injuries, helping make her the perfect person to be honored as well.

Retired from the sport she loves, Denna is focusing on her career plans that were already in movement before injury – The Law. Right before her injury, she was working as a victim witness advocate for the district attorney’s office in Essex County, Mass (while also applying/interviewing at various law schools at the time).

Denna is focused more so then ever on becoming a lawyer, and is planning on returning back to school this year. A woman never afraid to have a grandiose life plan, she is still the same fighter as she’s always been and we love her for it.

View our favorite three videos of Denna below, and follow her on Instagram here

Watch videos of Denna!

Denna Laing Tribute at the NHL All-Star Game 2016 (HD)

Bruins honor Denna Laing a year after her injury

Hockey star injured at Winter Classic surprises teammates

SCI Superstar: Garrett Greer

There are a lot of ways to make a living after a spinal cord injury, but Garrett Greer may have one of the coolest professions any quadriplegic has landed post-injury – a professional poker player, and since 2012 he’s won over $3.6 million dollars.

He is 31 years old and a rising star on the World Poker Tour circuit, and a lifelong California boy currently living in Newport Beach who believes he was destined for the game. Long before his spinal cord injury he was already a diehard poker player, but Garrett’s accident brought him back after a brief stint in the movie production world.

Driven and dead-set on changing the stinging stereotype that most people would rather be dead than be like him (and maybe win some big bucks along the way), read up on the rising star of poker, Garrett Greer.

Why he’s fearless

Growing up in the sleepy town of Hemet, CA, Garrett was your typical young man dreaming of a bigger life, and he finally got his opportunity after graduating from high school, enrolling at UCLA. But he wasn’t sure how he was going to afford tuition. Fortunately, when he started college it was also when the big poker boom was happening online.

After discovering poker through an old high school buddy, he returned to college and began to study the mathematics and strategy of the game, and he was hooked. And he began to win right away, both online and at casinos near home. He began to win almost $7,000 a week, which he would use towards tuition. He was working towards a degree in sociology, with plans to go to law school.

That is exactly what he was planning on doing, even scoring a 163 on the law school entrance exam. But Garrett had another love, the movie industry. He left poker to produce a short film called Hours Before in 2010 with some of his winnings, and he was thrilled about his future in the business, but in March, just one day after his first day as a paid producer, he broke his neck in a swimming pool accident.

Waking up as a quadriplegic, Garrett knew he needed to refine his career, and he found himself returning to poker. Almost a year later he began playing poker again online, and he began to win just like before. By the end of 2011, Garrett even made his first appearance in-person playing at the Hustler casino, winning $18,000.

By 2013, the poker world began to notice Garrett when he finished seventh at the World Poker Tour L.A. Poker Classic Main Event, winning $161,300. And in March 2014, he finished six in the Bay 101 Shooting Star tournament and won a cool $174,080. He won another $230,487 later in 2014 when he finished 32nd place in the World Series of Poker main event. And at the $10,400 No-Limit Hold’em World Poker Tour in December 2014, he won a whopping $1,169,683

April and June of 2016 treated him very well. He had two second-place finishes. One was for $458,722 and the other was at the Bellagio Casino in Las Vegas. He was playing in the $1,500 No-Limit Hold’em Millionaire Maker 1st & 2nd $1 Million GTD, winning $1,000,000 in a very tight game. “It was a life-changing amount,” he says.

What’s next?

Since his big win nearly a year ago, he has kept busy in 2016 on the pro-poker circuit, and he started a new venture – a TV and movie production company he founded with two friends, Greater Good Productions. Currently they’re working on a documentary about Garret’s life, and following him around as he travels and plays.

In January of 2015, he finished 17th in the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure tournament at the Atlantis resort, winning $79,400. Most recently he played the World Poker Tour in Montreal, and donated a portion of his winnings to the Life Rolls On Foundation.

Garrett also loves sharing his life on social media (which we highly highly recommend following). From sharing videos of his travels to his adventures with his fabulous girlfriend, Youtube fitness star Jessica Arevalo, his entire life is a giant motivational pill you actually want to swallow.

And we hope to see Garrett win another million-dollar jackpot soon. You have it in you, Garrett-boy. We believe in you.

Do you think playing cards is a great equalizer?

Do you think playing cards is a great equalizer?

Follow Garrett on Instagram (@garrettjgreer)

Follow him on Facebook Garrett Greer

Read his poker stats

Watch his videos!

Season XIII WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic Player Profile: Garrett Greer

Garrett gets 2nd place/wins $1 million in the World Series of Poker 2016

Garrett’s DIY: C6 Quadriplegic Getting Dressed in Wheelchair (Ties Shoes)

Source: A Poker Life: Garrett Greer (