83-year-old Elizabeth Laird from Texas has visited airports to hug soldiers going and returning from war for more than a decade. She has apparently hugged more than 500,000 soldiers. In the heartbreaking times when soldiers she hugged did not return alive from war, Laird would instead hug their grief-stricken relatives and friends.
Laird is now hospitalized with breast cancer that she's fought since 2005. Her family support system is sadly diminished after she tragically lost her husband and daughter, both in the same week seven years ago.
But Laird is not alone.
Thousands of the young men and women she gave love and support to for all those years are lining up at her hospital bed to hug her in return. One of these men is Sgt. Edmond Clark, who was deployed for war three times; Laird hugged him every single time. As he stood by her hospital bed, he hugged her frail body and said, “I love you so much. I just had to come and see you.”
Although Laird is doing better now, she refuses to undergo chemotherapy or radiation and instead is asking people to pray for her speedy recovery.
“The hug lady was very inspirational in my first deployment to Afghanistan. She touched my heart,” said retired Army Capt. Caren Adkins, who was one of the many who turned up to hug Laird.
Laird's son, Richard Dewees, set up a GoFundMe account to encourage soldiers to come visit his mother, and collect money to fund her medical expenses. Contributors have given more than $60,000 so far.