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For the past two years, 9-year-old Genny Shepler has played hockey in Riverside. In July, she fell 30 feet down a cliff while hiking and was in a coma for 11 days. On Tuesday, the LA Kings sent the Stanley Cup itself to visit Genny. Lucy Noland reports for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on Oct. 2, 2012.
The Stanley Cup on Tuesday visited a 9-year-old hockey fan who has been in the hospital for months recovering from a devastating fall.
Genny Besnia Shepler suffered severe head trauma while hiking Mill Creek Canyon in Forest Hills with her siblings on July 30. They'd traversed the area in the past, but this time the kids went higher than they should have and Genny fell nearly 30 feet down the cliff.
She was airlifted to Loma Linda Hospital, where she spent 11 days in a coma.
"She had skull fractures from behind her left ear down to the base of her skull and severe bruising on her brain stem," said her mother, DeAnne Shepler.
At one point, the doctors told DeAnne to "prepare" for the fact that Genny is not going to wake up.
"You don’t know my kid," she told them. "I know you hear this from every parent, but you don’t know my kid."
A few days after Genny came out of the coma, she moved to HealthBridge Children’s Hospital in Orange. She has been there since mid-August relearning how to walk and speak. And she is relentless in her desire to get better. "I can do it" appeared to be her mantra during a visit from NBC4.
Genny's dad, Kevin Shepler, says hockey fits his daughter's personality -- which he described as tough, fast and aggressive.
That toughness is vital for Genny during her recovery, which was brightened on Tuesday by the shiny, iconic trophy (pictured below). She was treated like the champion she is when the LA Kings Organization visited her in the hospital, and they brought with them the Stanley Cup.
The 9 year old loves hockey. Her face lights up when she talks about hockey – especially her own skills on the ice. "I can go fast, and backwards," she said.
Genny plays in a girls’ league in Riverside called the Lady Reigns. "It’s fun … and we are dangerous," she said.
As if a dignitary were arriving, the family and small hospital crowd all rose to their feet when the cup arrived. There was cheering and pointing, picture taking and happy head shaking.
Gloved hands moved the historic trophy to a table draped with LA Kings banners.
Genny kissed and hugged the Stanley Cup. Her brothers won’t touch it – they’re abiding by the hockey legend that says if you touch the cup, you can’t win it.
Daryl Evans, a Kings alumnus, promisesd to take Genny on the ice when she is more able.
The cup had a busy schedule on Tuesday, visiting several ice rinks in the area, but its handlers made time for this extra stop.
"It’s not just all about hockey, it’s about community and the people that watch the game," Evans said, adding that Genny is an inspiration.
The Sheplers say they can’t thank the Kings enough for the thrill they brought their daughter.
Beaming, Genny pressed up against the silver and the names of so many hockey heroes. Still, Genny says she wants something else.
"I want to go home," she confided.
Genny's hard work is paying off. Doctors have told the nine year old and her family, that she can return home in two weeks.
While Genny has a long road of outpatient re-hab ahead of her, she is determined to skate again.