Dozens gathered at Mount St. Joseph University to remember their hero, Lauren Hill (Photo: FOX19 NOW/Mike Buckingham)
People left notes and flowers to remember and honor Hill (Photo: FOX19 NOW/Mike Buckingham)
Over 10,000 people saw Lauren Hill make her first ever collegiate lay up on Nov. 2 (Photo: FOX19 NOW)
The Cincinnati Reds honored Lauren with a moment of silence before their game Friday against the Cardinals (Photo: FOX19 NOW/Joe Danneman)
(PHOTO: FOX19 NOW/ Shawn Lanier)
CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) -
Communities around the Tri-State gathered to remember basketball player Lauren Hill's legacy who passed away at 19 years old from a rare form of brain cancer.
Lauren played four collegiate-level basketball games at Mount St. Joseph University and brought awareness to the rare form of brain cancer, DIPG (Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma), all while battling the disease herself.
She was diagnosed with DIPG only 49 days after signing on to play basketball at MSJ.
Dozens of Lauren's college family came together to leave flowers and notes to honor and remember her at a vigil Friday afternoon.
The MSJ women's basketball team led the procession to the center of campus to honor their teammate. Fellow students, faculty, staff and those in the community gathered under a bright, sunny sky to cry, smile and remember a life well lived.
"We've had a dreary week of rain and and I think God sent us a sign with the sun coming out this afternoon, and I think that's the way Lauren would have wanted it," Mount Saint Joseph president Dr. Tony Aretz said.
Those who knew Lauren and those who had never met her, felt it was important to take time out to remember her legacy.
"She kinda just stepped up and decided to be a hero, instead of giving up, and that's very brave of her, and that's what she's going to be remembered as, a brave human being and a hero," MSJ sophomore Jordan Corbett said.
Her coach and teammates, say it's a legacy they're determined to continue.
"She put a fight up, she showed everybody who has cancer that you can keep fighting, and not die from cancer, but live. Don't let cancer take your life, sit back and cry and pout, fight," MSJ head women's basketball coach Dan Benjamin said.
"The pain will end, a smile does not. I know Lauren is smiling, so I'm gonna smile. And I would like everyone else to keep smiling, for Lauren," one of Lauren's teammates said at the vigil.
MSJ announced on their website their "Run for 22" event that was going to be held Sunday has been postponed in light of her death. MSJ says resident assistants will reschedule the event which will benefit Lauren's Fight For Cure.
In Lauren's hometown of Lawrenceburg, Ind, students turned the front steps of Lawrenceburg High School into a makeshift memorial to tribute a young woman whose motto was "Never Give Up."
"We can all kind of take to her message that she really wanted to share and she really personified that here over the past few years of her life where when she was first diagnosed as a senior in high school she continued to play basketball, she continued to be involved in activities and continued on into college," Lawrenceburg Community School Corporation superintendent Karl Galey said.
Grief counselors have been brought in to help Lawrenceburg students and staff deal with their grief.
Lauren maintained a strong spirit in her mission to raise funds and put DIPG, which typically effects children ages 5 to 10, on the map. Doctors told her that she would be lucky to make it to Christmas, but she made it to Easter.
"She decided you know what God's only giving me a few months to live. I'm going to make the most of it and she did. She made such an incredible impact on DIPG research and also she made such an effort to galvanize the entire nation," The Cure Starts Now co-founder Brooke Desserich said.
Lauren became the face and voice of a cureless disease. She teamed up with The Cure Starts Now to bring awareness and to raise funds for research.
"She was a fierce individual. She was not going to take a diagnosis of cancer and let it beat her down," The Cure Starts Now co-founder Brooke Desserich said.
In the past year, Lauren helped raise $2.4 million in the search for a cure. That equals what The Cure Starts Now raised since in began seven years ago. She also created the 'Layups for Lauren' challenge where notable athletes, neighbors and people from afar shot layups and made donations for DIPG research.
"We're going to fund ground-breaking innovative stuff that nobody else is funding. We're going to make a difference and we're going to take Lauren's legacy and her motivation and we're going to make a difference," Desserich said.
Folks at The Cure Starts Now say they plan to meet with top doctors in Chicago later this month to discuss which research project should be funded with money Lauren helped raise in an effort to find a cure.
The sports community also paid tribute to Lauren.
"The contributions Lauren Hill made to the women's basketball world are immeasurable. She handled herself with poise and grace despite the long odds she faced. We will miss her spirit but continue her fight in battling a terrible disease. The Bearcats thoughts and prayers are with her family, friends and all of those she touched," University of Cincinnati head women's basketball coach Jamelle Elliot said.
A moment of silence will be held during the Cincinnati Reds - St. Louis Cardinals game Friday night, the Reds announced.
"You know, losing a tough warrior like that - battling her tail off - knowing she only has a certain amount of time to live. You can't really fathom that. And, you know, she still battled her heart out playing basketball and sports touches a lot of people and some people don't understand that. And, she didn't want anything from it. You know, God gave her a plan and God bless her," Reds third baseman Todd Frazier said.
Lauren's family released a statement thanking the community for all of their support.
"We can't thank everyone enough for their sentiments and kind words. Lauren truly moved a nation and we will be forever grateful to everyone for helping her achieve her dreams."
Lauren's courage and fight touch thousands of hearts around the United States and her legacy will remain will be intact for years to come.
“I want to be remembered as a hero for little kids to look up to,” Hill said last year. “Give them a beacon of hope that there is hope and hopefully that a cure is coming soon.”