BEAVERTON, Ore. – Maddie Lauer lost her battle with cancer Sunday, and while her family and friends come to grips with a life cut too short, they're also finding a way to celebrate her life.
Students at Beaverton High School planned a touching tribute Tuesday for the brave and compassionate 14-year-old who fought a rare type of thyroid cancer.
"She was actually the first known case of it in a child," said Maddie's mother, Andrea.
Her friends wore purple and passing out purple ribbons that they made in the hope of spreading the word about the beautiful and strong girl.
For almost a year, Andrea says her daughter battled back through surgery and chemo. Then there was a surprise moment and a chance to be a teenager again; Maddie was crowned queen at Beaverton High School’s homecoming in October as a freshman.
"It's crazy," Maddie said at the time during an interview, adding she didn't really think being crowned queen would happen to her.
"Blown away by how fast it progressed, and so it was shocking," Andrea said about the cancer Monday. "We weren't prepared, but you know there's a little bit of a blessing in how quick it went."
When word spread of Maddie’s death, students wanted to honor her. So they sat down to twist into bows hundreds of purple ribbons and initial them for their peers to wear on Tuesday.
Purple is not only the color for thyroid cancer but also Maddie's favorite.
"Her story is so inspiring, especially becoming homecoming queen, and I think it's a good symbol of celebrating her," said Natasha Vartanian, Maddie's close friend.
"Really touching," Andrea said. "Made us really happy, sad – just kind of opens all the emotions of just how loved she was."
The parents and students who worked so hard on those ribbons said they planned on handing them out first thing in the morning.
They also said word spread through social media, and students at other area schools also planned on wearing purple.