Lacey’s colorful life remembered
Lacey Horwitch last july in her "Wish Room" at her Northbrook home. The room, provided by the Make-A-Wish Foundation, was completed July 5. | Karie Angell Luc~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: March 22, 2013 6:58AM
NORTHBROOK — When 10-year-old Lacey Bria Horwitch, of Northbrook, died in her parents’ arms, it was the end of a lesson to those who loved her: It’s not the number of years in your life that count.
On Feb. 14, Rabbi Carl Wolkin of Congregation Beth Shalom led funeral services for Lacey in the same building where she held the Torah at a Yom Kippur service last year.
Lacy fought hemophagocytic lymphohistocytis and thyroid hormone resistance and received chemotherapy at the University of Chicago Comer Children’s Hospital, died Feb. 12
“In living, even 10 years, her life has inestimable value and meaning,” Wolkin said.
Many of the roughly 800 people who attended, including her mother Laura, wore Lacey’s favorite color, purple.
“On Valentine’s Day,” mused Cantor Steven Stoehr, “when red is the predominant color, purposeful purple pervaded.”
At first, her illness was a lot for a little girl to shoulder.
“When she went into liver failure 19 months ago,” said her father, David, “her instinct wasn’t to feel sorry for herself. She felt badly that the family would miss (a Walt) Disney trip.”
Yet, Dr. Terri Carman, the principal of Wescott School, where Lacey attended, remembers how she persevered.
“As sick as Lacey was, she never stopped thinking of others,” Carman said. “I treasure this particular bracelet and all the others that were sold to raise awareness and money for Lacey’s medical research fund. I wore Lacey’s bracelet to her funeral, and know whenever I wear this special gift that there is a piece of Lacey that will always be with me.”
Her fight inspired many through a series of fundraisers. Last year, volunteers installed a wheelchair ramp on the family’s home, and Lacey became as the subject of Chicago-area bone marrow drives, which resulted in more donors added to the national registry.
The girl who loved comic book heroine Wonder Woman referred to her father, whose stem cells fortified her bone marrow, as Superman.
“‘He’s a superhero, he saved my life,’” said David, recalling her words.
To second-grade teacher Nicki Schaffer, Lacey was a force of life.
“She was a bold and spirited little girl who found pleasure in the simplest things,” Schaffer said. “Lacey had a wonderful imagination and liked to perform and dazzle everyone around her.”
Lacey’s hearing aids in sparkled glitter grape. She loved Northbrook DancEd. She was fond, also, of hairbows.
When she lost her hair to chemo, her sisters Maya and Jenna, and her friend Bekah Lampert, donated their locks to create a wig.
At home, Lacey’s legacy remains in her room. Mmounted across from a wall of celebrity autographs, including singer Katy Perry, are yards of ”Beads of Courage” in carnival colors. Those beads, represent her light from tooth fairy visits, to struggles and triumphs.
“We’ve never counted,” said Laura, of the kaleidoscope of colors hanging from the the otherwise plain, ivory walls.
Perhaps, it’s not the number that counts.
Pioneer Reporter Todd Shields contributed to this story.