Lynchburg Conference Honors Special Teacher

Darlene Mack introduces the conference to Laurie Horne.

Lynchburg, VA - Sometimes, we honor people we love when it's too late and they are no longer in our lives. At a conference in Lynchburg Friday, event organizers made sure that did not happen to one very special woman.

Laurie Horne's been a teacher for three decades. She works tirelessly to get parents engaged in their kids' education. But two years ago, a cancer diagnosis threatened to turn Laurie's world upside down.

"No one in my family had ever had cancer, so it just caught me, well, it was a shock honestly," said Horne.

That was May 2011, when doctors told Laurie she had the disease. After months of chemotherapy and radiation took her hair, she thought the cancer was gone; it was not.

"In September of last year, I found out that it had returned in my brain. And so, I had eight spots in my brain and whole brain radiation," said Horne.

Laurie was back where she started with stage 4 cancer. But she kept working as a teacher as long as she could.

"I love teaching children to read," said Horne.

During that time, Horne met Darlene Mack.

"I met Laurie two years ago," said Mack, co-owner, Successful Innovations and conference organizer.

Mack organizes the Mid-Atlantic Family Engagement Summit conference in Lynchburg. Here, educators spend two days sharing the best practices for getting families involved in the classroom. When it came to name an award after someone, Mack had just the teacher in mind.

"God put it on my heart and told me, 'Why don't you name the award this year after Laurie Horne?' because what better model of family engagement can you possibly have?" said Mack.

And to help cancer patients, a second surprise: A donation in Laurie's name to the American Cancer Society.

"This donation in her name could be part of that or could be what puts us over the top and finds that cure," said Mary Coates, American Cancer Society, Lynchburg office.

Laurie is staying very much upbeat. The last MRI showed all the spots on her brain had gone. She has another MRI at the end of this month to check on her progress. Recently, she's stopped working, but hopes to get back to work her with school kids again.