She loves the game of hockey and is herself a sled hockey player.
So U.S. Navy veteran Laurie Wood could not contain her excitement when she was surprised ahead of Veterans Day with a brand-new, Capitals-themed wheelchair courtesy of Permobil, presented to her by Caps players John Carlson and Nick Jensen.
“Oh [expletive]!” she yelled when the players appeared behind her.
She laughed and apologized for swearing.
“This is so cool,” Wood said as she sat in the new chair. “I love it and it fits so much better than my other one.”
Wood traveled from her home in Virginia Beach to Arlington to watch the Capitals practice Saturday at MedStar Capitals Iceplex.
“I knew I was getting a chair but I had no idea about all this extra stuff,” Wood said.
The new wheelchair includes smart drive, which can be controlled by a watch. The function does all the work pushing the chair for Wood and she just has to steer.
Wood said it will make her life easier.
“Some people might take that for granted but it’s definitely a big deal for someone like me who has these challenges every day,” Wood said.
Wood spent 18 years as a photographer for the U.S. Navy before becoming a sheriff’s deputy. She was paralyzed from the waist down in 2012 after she fell from a roof while training academy recruits for the Norfolk Sheriff’s Office.
“Laurie has sacrificed a lot for her country and her community,” said Jensen. “This is an amazing moment to be able to share with her.”
Wood said playing sled hockey has helped her cope with being wheelchair-bound. She played on the Women’s USA Sled Hockey Team for two years where she won gold in Ontario at the first ever Women’s Cup.