VIA| Since 2003, central Texan Elizabeth Laird goes to the airport to pay her respects to the troops. The 83-year-old gives each soldier a hug before they leave for deployment at Fort Hood.
It’s such a small gesture, but it has a big impact: giving those who serve their country a little warmth, compassion, and recognition before they go off to a place they may never return home from. But you can be sure that when they do come home, Elizabeth is there to hug them again. She’s a bit of a local hero known as the “hug lady,” and in her 12 years she has given half a million hugs to our troops. Then one day she wasn’t there…
Elizabeth has battled breast cancer for 11 years, and now she’s back in the hospital continuing her fight, but she’s not alone. Like the grandma in the window who waved to students, soldiers noticed Elizabeth’s absence and are returning the favor. The men and women are visiting Elizabeth in the hospital and giving her back oh so many of the wonderful hugs.
“It would be my honor to give her a hug in her time of need,” Staff Sgt. Jarvez Wilkes told NBC. “I made it my business to get down here and show her a little love because she’s shown me plenty of love.”
In 3 days, they’ve helped to raise over $70,000 to cover Elizabeth’s medical expenses.
“The outpouring of people, the comments coming in, it’s amazing,” said her son, Richard Dewees. “She’s touched this many people in that way with just a simple hug.”
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