KILLEEN (November 11, 2015) Fort Hood’s seriously ill “Hug Lady” Elizabeth Laird was out of ICU Wednesday and some of the hundreds of thousands of soldiers who received hugs from her were lining up to return the gesture while hundreds of others were contributing to a GoFundMe account that had grown to nearly 60,000 by midday.
Those who want to express their support in person were told to call (254) 526-7523 to check to see if she’s available for visits.
Laird who vowed to greet Fort Hood soldier who returned from deployment with a hug, has been battling the breast cancer for 10 years and has refused chemotherapy and radiation, opting instead for natural treatments, her son said Tuesday.
On Tuesday Laird, who will turn 84 in January, was moved into the intensive care unit of Metroplex Hospital in Killeen after developing tachycardia, an abnormally fast heartbeat.
By some estimates Laird over the past 12 years has hugged more than half-a-million returning troops, which was her way of saying thank you.
She said it was important to her that the returning soldiers knew that there was someone at home who was interested in them and who cared about them.
Laird can no longer live on her own and will need to move into an assisted living facility.
Her son set up the GoFundMe account early Tuesday, and nearly 2,000 people had responded by midday Wednesday.
Some were soldiers, such as the staff sergeant, who wrote, “I deployed three times and this nice woman greeted me each time. I looked forward to those hugs lol. Get well soon mama.”
But others were not, including a woman whose son didn’t come home.
“Thank you for hugging my son Matt,” she wrote.
“It is more than likely the last hug he got when he left Fort Hood because he didn't return from Afghanistan. Thank you again and please get well!”
Another was an Army wife, who wrote simply, “Thank you for all the hugs you gave my husband when my children and I weren't there to. You are in our family’s prayers!!”
A soldier who left her young daughter behind, posted a touching message.
"I love her, I deployed teary eyed and scared (secretly) worried my almost two year old daughter would forget me, she whispered in my ear that everything would be OK, it meant the world to me. I wish I had millions to give her."
The GoFundMe site fundraising goal was $10,000, but by early Wednesday afternoon, the total was six times that much.
Donations ranged from as little as $5 from a woman who wrote, “I wish I could do more. I pray for a speedy recovery. I love you, Mrs. Laird.,” to as much as $500 from an anonymous contributor.