The new unorthodox way of saying hello is putting your head down so you don’t have to make eye contact with the person in passing. It’s not every day that you see someone that live to greet people. Elizabeth Laird is not your everyday person. She is a person with a big heart and big hugs and for over 500,000 people those hugs meant the world!

Elizabeth Laird, known to Fort Hood residents as the ‘Hug Lady,’ has been hospitalized at Metroplex Hospital in Killeen. Her son Rick Dewees told KVUE’s news partner KCEN she was put in the hospital last Friday, but moved to ICU this morning after her condition became worse with an abnormally rapid heartbeat. Elizabeth who will turn 84-years-old in January, is now listed in ‘serious’ condition. “We don’t know from day to day…or even if we’ll have another day,” he said.

Hug Lady Elizabeth Laird (NBC DFW)
Hug Lady Elizabeth Laird

Despite battling breast cancer for the last 11 years, Elizabeth has made it her mission to hug every single soldier as they board the planes to deploy. She’s there waiting with a hug when they return to welcome them home. Since 2003 it’s estimated she’s handed out more than 500,000 hugs.

“I think that’s the main thing that keeps her going, her troops. She calls them her family,” he said. “She loves her country, and she’s gone out there and done her job for them.”

The news of her hospitalization has gone viral with hundreds of people from across the nation sending their well wishes to the Hug Lady. All day soldiers have poured in to the hospital to return the favor, and wrap their arms around the woman who lifted their spirits.

“It would be my honor to give her a hug in her time of need,” said Staff Sgt. Jarvez Wilkes with the 2-7 Cav. “You become accustomed to it. It’s almost an expectation to know she’ll be there when you get home. You never think of moments like this, and you take life for granted.”

For Wilkes, those hugs meant the world when he deployed in 2007 and again in 2011. “For me I didn’t have any family to see me off or see me home. It brings a little life to you to know someone actually cares enough to love you… and a complete stranger at that,” he said.

Her son says the support has been overwhelming, and that the hugs are working. “She’s back to being the hug lady. Her spirit and attitude are back up,” said Rick. “I just want to thank everybody who’s sending comments and who are coming by to hug her. It’s giving her a reason to live.”

Her son set up a GoFundMe account to help pay for her medical expenses and the assisted living expenses if she leaves the hospital.

Source: KVUE News

This story has not only brought tears to our eyes, it serves as an inspiration to us as women. A hug is like a boomerang – you get it back right away.” Bil Keane

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