Trinity Church of Wesley Chapel was packed for a service held to celebrate the life of Laura Hauser, who waged a six-year battle with cancer but succumbed to the disease on June 8.
There were probably 500 people at the service on the evening of June 13, according to Trish Trout, a long-time friend who described the event, via email.
Most of the people at the memorial, deemed a celebration of life, wore blue, which is the color worn as a sign of support in the battle against colon cancer.
“There were tears, there was a lot of laughter. There was so much love and support in the church,” Trout added.
“And, of course, there was a PSA (public service announcement) to get tested for colon cancer. This is exactly what Laura would want,” added Trout, who accompanied Hauser on some of her appointments when she was initially diagnosed.
Penny Foote, another friend of Hauser, also attended the service.
She knew her friend was special but had no idea her sphere of influence had been so broad.
Speaker after speaker told story after story of the positive effect she’d had in their lives, Foote said.
“I don’t even know how one person can change so many lives for the better,” said Foote, who coordinated a fundraiser for the Hauser family on June 13 at Harvester United Methodist Church in Land O’ Lakes.
The benefit raised $3,285.65, and Foote is planning to organize another fundraiser in the future to provide additional help for the family.
Hauser is survived by her husband, Richard; her son, Noah, 14; and her daughter, Tatum, 12.
She was a warrior in her battle with cancer, friends said. She’d undergone more than 70 rounds of chemotherapy and multiple surgeries.
The disease began in her colon but had spread all over her body, including her liver, lungs, spine and brain, said Stephanie Hardy, a family friend for the past four years.
Hauser had been to Seattle for treatment but had returned to Wesley Chapel to attend Noah’s eighth-grade graduation and Tatum’s dance recitals.
She made it to the graduation, but wasn’t able to go to the recitals. She was able to watch one — that was livestreamed — from her bed, Richard Hauser said.
The family had thought that potential treatment in Seattle offered Hauser her best hope and she had planned to return there, but she died at home, under the care of hospice.
Her battle was personal, but she wasn’t alone.
Her fight inspired family, friends, colleagues and strangers to step forward to show their support.
The family also is being helped by a GoFundMe account, established by Pamela Maurer Fay on May 23, which attracted hundreds of donations and sentiments of support.
“You are strong and you are loved. Find strength in the amount of people who wish to help your beautiful family. You are in our prayers,” Rick and Susan Coder wrote, when making their donation.
Hauser worked at Wesley Chapel Elementary School before her illness caused her to leave the job.
While she was working there in 2012, she received the award for School-Related Personnel of the Year for Pasco County Schools. The distinction goes to a noninstructional employee who makes outstanding contributions.
At the time of the award, Hauser’s title was media and technology assistant, but both her colleagues and her boss said her influence was far broader.
She was the campus photographer. She handled lunch duty. She shelved books and checked them out. She had a photography club for kids, put together the school’s yearbook and helped teachers with technical issues.
Principal John Abernathy, described her this way: “Laura is hands-down the most reliable, the most efficient, the most dependable, the most sincere person that I can say that I’ve run across in a really long time.
“In terms of the lives that I would say that Laura has touched – I couldn’t even put a number to it,” he said.
After learning of Hauser’s death, Pasco County Schools tweeted out a message: “Rest in peace, Laura Hauser. A great educator, mom, wife and friend to many. You will be missed.”
Published June 17, 2015