Hockey hero Cherie Hendrickson continues to inspire with sixth Boston Marathon

Although the 2014-15 season saw the absence of Cherie Hendrickson from elite women’s hockey competition, she did not stop being an influential member of the sporting community. An exceptionally well-conditioned athlete, Hendrickson has played hockey in the United States, Canada and Russia, simultaneously serving as an ambassador for the game, in addition to being a valued teammate.

Showing great physical and emotional endurance by successfully competing in the world-famous Boston Marathon, the 2015 edition resulted in Hendrickson’s participation for the sixth time. With many Bostonians still healing from the somber and sad tragedy that occurred in 2013, Hendrickson was among many whose efforts provided comfort, raising and strengthening many spirits.

While Hendrickson always runs with fund-raising in mind, a special gift was given to her. With the darkened skies releasing rains upon the courageous runners, a unique surprise resulted in which Hendrickson shared on social media. With a three-time champion standing by, providing encouragement and support, it helped Hendrickson dig a little deeper as she was looking to finish with a personal record time. Sharing her jubilation on social media, it garnered an empathy and support from friends and fans alike,

“This year as I passed through Kenmore Square and was half a mile from the finish line, I heard a female voice cheering for Dana Farber from the right side of the road. I looked and to my astonishment, there stood Uta Pippig, three-time women’s champion of the Boston Marathon, standing in the freezing rain and wind by the side of the road in a soaking wet black windbreaker.

Even though I was running a PR time (for me), I was still hours behind any of the elite runners…but she had stayed out in the cold rain to cheer on and give hugs to us slower runners. ‘You got this sweetie! It’s easy!!’ She told me as she gave me a big hug…I laughed. Easy, right. But in that moment she embodied everything that is great about running Boston and running for Dana Farber.”

Collage from experiences at the 2015 Boston Marathon (Image obtained from Facebook)

Collage from experiences at the 2015 Boston Marathon (Image obtained from Facebook)

For this purposeful young woman, she crossed the final line, approaching it with a heroic grace. Although she was not on the ice, the site of many memorable moments in her career, such as a 2013 Clarkson Cup win dedicated to her father, the talent and determination that she always brought to the ice was evident on this day.

Unlike hockey, the personal aspect of the marathon can be a lonely existence. The longing of participation and joy of competition resulted in a spiritual journey for Hendrickson, where the greatest reward was running to raise funds, looking to help others. She shared the names of those she ran for on social media, testament to her status as a charming personality with a heart of gold. In the aftermath of the marathon, Hendrickson is the type of individual that anyone would want on their team.

“This year I ran for a lot of special people, several of which I’m lucky to call friends. Clockwise from the top left: Eileen Wallace breast cancer survivor, Sandra Cohan Dubuc who lost her son Matty to liver cancer, Hilary Hall two-time cancer survivor (leukemia and breast cancer), and everyone I carried on my singlet this year. Thank you to all who have donated – together over the past six years we’ve raised over $25,000 for cancer research! The link is still open in case you procrastinated (or wanted to see if I’d run in the rain). Thank you!!!”

Hockey hero Cherie Hendrickson competes in 2014 Boston Marathon

Over the last year, Cherie Hendrickson has experienced a whirlwind of exciting yet highly emotional moments. From winning the 2013 Clarkson Cup with the Boston Blades, to gracing the field at Fenway Park, Hendrickson even travelled to Russia, where she competed for Lokomotiv hockey club with Blades teammate Kelley Steadman.

Throughout this time of remarkable personal milestones, Hendrickson also participated in the 2013 Boston Marathon. One of the darkest chapters in the history of the world renowned city, a malicious bombing tragically injured many of the participants. Having altered the lives of so many, Hendrickson, who was luckily not injured, was part of a proud group of citizens that became Boston Strong.

Such strength was clearly on display at the running of the Marathon in 2014. While most sports fans in New England identify Hendrickson as an ice hockey player, this accomplished athlete was part of a great social and athletic movement in which Boston’s residents showed their spirits could not be broken.

Photo credit: S. Dubuc, Obtained from Facebook

Photo credit: S. Dubuc, Obtained from Facebook

As one of an astounding 36,000 runners that participated, Hendrickson was not only helping to raise funds for DFMC, but she was running in remembrance of those affected by last year’s tragedy. While she experienced dehydration in the hills that comprise part of the Marathon’s course, crossing the finish line was never in doubt.

With the support of family and friends as a great source of inspiration and motivation, Hendrickson’s journey to the finish line was well worth it. Although the finish was somewhat slower than she had anticipated, the effort provided her with tremendous fulfillment. Like so many of her Blades teammates, Hendrickson’s efforts on and off the ice make her a role model for young female athletes in New England.

She would share her feelings of jubilation on social media on a day where everyone truly experienced victory, “Lucky to have been a part of the loudest, biggest and most passionate crowds I’ve seen at the marathon, lucky to call Boston home, honored to run for such an amazing organization, and lucky to have experienced the Boston Marathon again. We finished the race.”