Fort Hood’s “hug lady” has lifted the spirit of soldiers for almost 10 years. As they shipped out to fight abroad, she gave them hugs and kindness.
Tragically, hug lady recently learned that she has breast cancer that has spread to her bones. But now her kindness is being repaid in spades.
The soldiers, who love the woman, have created a GoFundMe page that has raised about $70,000 to go towards her cancer treatment and medical bills.
Former U.S. Army Capt. Rob Allen told Fox News, “I met her twice, as many soldiers from Fort Hood do. She was there when we left, and she was there when we came back. We all said goodbye to our families and got on buses. Hundreds of us were in line, and one by one, she gave everyone a hug ‘goodbye’—maybe even a kiss on the cheek.”
Hug lady’s real name is Elizabeth Laird. The 83-year-old is loved by all soldiers who were deployed out of the military base. Even in the rain, she was always there to give them a hug. She reportedly told Fox News from her hospital bed, “This is my way of thanking them for what they do for our country. I wasn’t hugging in 2003. I used to just shake their hands. But one day, a soldier hugged me, and that’s the way it started.”
Most of the soldiers she inspired had no idea Laird had been bravely fighting breast cancer since 2005, but this month, doctors told her the condition has worsened to the point she can no longer live alone.
Laird’s son, Vietnam veteran and former U.S. Marine Richard Dewees, set up the crowdfunding page Monday evening to help pay her medical expenses and ease the financial toll of life in an assisted-living facility. The initial goal of $10,000 was quickly surpassed, with much of the money flowing in from veterans touched by their encounters with Laird as they left the U.S., never knowing if they would come home.
“Hugging the soldiers is something she says the Lord gave her to do,” Dewees said. “You don’t really pay much attention to it until you finally step back and see what her hugs have meant to other people.
“I don’t know if she has regrets of me not being met by someone when I returned home from the Vietnam War, but she’s doing what needed to be done back then,” he said. “She’s changed people’s lives.”
Laird is feeling better and was recently released from intensive care. She’s now able to see visitors, and a steady stream of soldiers and veterans have made it it her bedside. Between those visits and the growing financial help, Laird is being repaid for her countless acts of kindness for the men and women who risk their lives for Americans.
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