Northbrook child loses fight with illness
Updated: February 13, 2013 2:26AM
NORTHBROOK — Lacey Horwitch of Northbrook, who turned 10 on Jan. 19, has died.
Lacey captured the heart of the community with her spunk and determination to live.
She was the daughter of David Horwitch, a Chicago attorney, and Laura Horwitch, a child psychotherapist. Her older sister Maya is a Northbrook Maple School sixth-grader. Her younger sister, Jenna, is a first -grader at Wescott School.
Diagnosed with hemophagocytic lymphohistocytis and thyroid hormone resistance, Lacey received chemotherapy at the University of Chicago Comer Children’s Hospital. Ninety percent of her hearing was affected over the roughly two-year struggle.
She was the focus of Chicago-area bone marrow drives last year resulting in hundreds of registered donors. Ultimately, her father was a partial match and donor.
Posted on the CaringBridge website to friends and associates, Laura Horwitch confirmed that Lacey died at 2:25 a.m. Tuesday in her father’s and mother’s arms.
“She will always be our angel,” Laura wrote. “There is no making sense of it and no ability to express our heartbreak.”
Lacey celebrated her half birthday July 19 at the Northbrook Meatheads restaurant at Willow Festival where “The Lacey Special” (two foot-long hot dogs, a side of warm cheese and fries) raised funds for Lacey’s medical bills.
The meal was Lacey’s favorite, and Meatheads offered her a gift card that entitled her to “The Lacey Special” daily for the rest of her life.
“This is the first time she’s been in a restaurant in a year outside of the hospital, amazing,” Laura Horwitch said at the party.
The Make-A-Wish foundation also completed a dream room for Lacey in July 2012. In addition, she received a “Locks of Love” style wig which included hair donated by her two sisters and a friend.
Steve Grundy of Northbrook, a neighbor who videotaped the in-home hair-collecting event, met Lacey when his son Cole was in kindergarten with Lacey’s sister Maya.
“Beautiful smile, that’s the first thing I noticed about Lacey,” Grundy said. “Not the wheelchair, not the gauze wrappings, not the other detritus of her ongoing medical battle, but her smile. She had one of those full-faced smiles with piercing eyes that just pulled you in and made you happy to the core.
“She was a spunky, charming, feisty, sweet little girl who loved to dance and sing and who taught the adults around her about guts and determination and never giving up. She was wise beyond her years.”
Debbie Grundy, Steve’s wife and a secretary at Wescott School where Lacey attended, said, “Their strength and love as a family is incredible. Following along with the journey that this family has endured has truly touched me. I have learned to appreciate every day and treasure the time I have with my children.”
Matt Lindner, Laura Horwitch’s best friend from Glenbrook South High School days, hosted a Halloween 2012 fundraiser at his Chicago nightclub Evil Olive.
Lindner is the son of Burton and Zorine Lindner who were killed in the July 4 train bridge collapse near the Glenview Princeton Village subdivision. Laura Horwitch and Matt Lindner buttressed each other through mutual crises.
“Although it is one of the saddest and heart wrenching situations I have ever seen, and no one should ever have to suffer like Lacey and her family, I am quite confident that her spirit, as strong as it was, will always be with us,” Lindner said.
“She will make Laura and her family smile, laugh and take comfort throughout their life. It might not be right now but it will happen. This I know. I’m sorry I didn’t get to know (Lacey) better in health but she was still remarkable in sickness. Laura was there for me so much with my parents I can only hope I can offer her as much support as she gave me.”
Pioneer Press will publish news of funeral arrangements when they become available.