TAMPA, Fla — Taking the ice once again at Amalie Arena on Tuesday, Sonya Bryson-Kirksey's voice captured the audience.
"It means the world literally," Bryson-Kirksey said.
She finished up the anthem, fighting back tears and waving to the crowd. Getting to this point hasn't been easy.
"Being in the hospital for so long, you kind of reevaluate things in your life. You realize the things that you spend time doing should matter. I know that this part matters in my life, so I wasn't finished yet. I'm so glad I got a chance to come back," Bryson-Kirksey said.
Sonya's immune system was hit hard by COVID-19 after the Bolt's Stanley Cup celebration.
"When we had the boat parade and the big celebration down at the park - after it rained and they were going to cancel the program - my husband decided I was going to go down and high-five the people that were there," Bryson-Kirksey said.
"That's me putting other people first, but I think I got it from somebody during that particular time because I didn't wash my hands right after," Bryson-Kirksey said.
About two days later her symptoms started and she knew she didn't feel well. Later on that week she had a fever and knew she needed to go to the hospital.
Sonya was in the hospital fighting COVID-19 for 30 days. Her stay was prolonged because of her Multiple sclerosis. Some days she didn't know if she'd make it.
"There was a couple of times that I felt that way. I felt lifted by the prayers that I know people were making and then I realized I needed to pray for myself. When I did that, it felt like I had turned a corner in my recovery," Bryson-Kirksey said.
Sonya asked God to keep her alive knowing that her family still needed her. Bolts nation needed her too and sent messages along the way.
In August, she was eventually released from the hospital.
On opening night, fans were all so grateful she was back and healthy again.