By Mark Haas
COMMERCE CITY, Colo. (CBS4) – Like a lot of moms, Laurie Ford spent part of her Mother’s Day weekend at her son’s soccer game.
“The greatest thing I have ever had the opportunity to be a part of is being his mom,” Ford says from a field level suite provided by the Colorado Rapids. “Of all the things I have done, this is the greatest honor I have.”
Her son is Rapids defender Kortne Ford, and the 21-year-old certainly isn’t taking this Mother’s Day for granted.
“Whether it is a birthday or Mother’s Day this could be the last one,” Kortne says. “So you put the time in to make it special.”
Kortne and his mom have a special relationship, a bond made stronger by everything they have been through.
“She is a fighter, she raised me by herself. I am an only child and she is a single mom,” Kortne says. “We moved out here in 2008, we left everything behind and started over.”
What they left behind was their life in Olathe, Kansas, that for Kortne included weekends with an abusive father.
“It went on for a while because I didn’t know there was anything wrong with it, I thought that is how all fathers were,” Kortne says.
When Laurie realized what was going on, she fought for two years to win full custody of Kortne, and then mom and son headed west to Greeley.
Kortne was a rising soccer star and was soon recruited to plan on club teams in Denver, but in 2009 Laurie was diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer. Still, while undergoing chemotherapy, Laurie made the drive to Denver several times a week so Kortne could train and continue his development.
“In many ways, he saved my life over and over,” Laurie says. “Because at that time you needed a real purpose and I knew that I was all he had and that I had work to do, and that’s what gave me the purpose and the drive.”
“I don’t think I really realized the significance of it until I looked back and looking at pictures, and you are like ‘Wow, this is nuts,'” said Kortne. “But now I’ve learned what chemo does to you and the tax it puts on your body and I am that much more appreciate of it.”
The training in Denver paid off, as the Rapids would sign Kortne to a homegrown contract. Ford would also be recruited to the University of Denver, where he enjoyed three successful years before turning pro.
However, after signing his contract in January of 2017, his Aunt Jo, who had helped raised him, passed away from liver cancer in February. At the same time, his mom learned that her cancer was back, and it was worse.
“You know when it rains it does pour,” Kortne says. “At first we were focused on my Aunt Jo so we didn’t pay too much attention to it, but after we figured out how severe it was for my mom and that it had spread to her bones, we knew she has a serious fight coming up here.”
The prognosis for Laurie isn’t good, giving Kortne extra motivation to give his mom something to cheer for.
“It motivates me every day and I have a reason to play,” Kortne says. “I play with a chip on my shoulder because of it and I know she would want me to fight.”
And while Kortne will fight for his mom, Laurie vows to keep fighting as well.
“I have stuff to do, I am not going anywhere yet,” Laurie says. “I don’t care what they say…the battle is on.”
Laurie is still teaching math at Brentwood Middle School in Greeley. If you would like to support her in her fight against cancer, you can donate at gofundme.com/laurieford.