Hockey fans cheered Saturday night as Jeff Bauman Jr. made a surprise appearance on the ice before the Boston Bruins game at the TD Garden.
Bauman, 27, who lost both legs in the Boston Marathon bombings and awoke at Boston Medical Center to help authorities identify the bombers, appeared before the NHL playoff game against the Toronto Maple Leafs as honorary fan banner captain.
Bauman was introduced with text that read, “By now you know his inspirational story. His perseverance in the face of great adversity represents all that is Boston Strong.”
Seated in a wheelchair and clad in a Bruins jersey and red shorts, Bauman smiled, pumped his fist in the air, and gave a thumbs-up to the crowd. He waved a large flag with the words “Boston Strong” written in the team’s colors, gold against a black background.
He did not speak publicly but issued a statement expressing his gratitude for the support he has received since the bombings.
“I want to thank everyone for their amazing support for me and all those injured and their families,” Bauman said in the statement. “I’m making great progress and I thank everyone for their thoughts and prayers. Please continue to respect our space at this time. I want to thank the Bruins players and organization for the generosity and support for all those impacted.”
As he waved the flag and the Foo Fighters song “All My Life” played, the giant Bruins banner that is passed around the Garden before each playoff game began its circle of the seats.
Bauman has become emblematic of those who survived the blasts with devastating injuries. His ashen face was captured alongside that of Carlos Arredondo in a widely published Associated Press photo that, in uncropped form, shows Bauman’s leg completely destroyed below the knee.
The Chelmsford resident attended the Marathon to cheer on his girlfriend, who was running. He has worked for about 3½ years at the Nashua Costco wholesale club, where co-workers have rallied to provide financial support and the company has pledged to match their donations.
Supporters also plan to hold a fund-raiser for Bauman at The Village Smokehouse in Lowell on Sunday night.