Inspiring a Team, and a Community
When I think of my journey and everything I’ve been through with Lauren, it leaves me speechless. She was such an inspiration to me and she was the definition of true heroism. She was never afraid of anything she faced and she did not let DIPG win. She honestly lived by her motto—never give up.
What I learned most from Lauren is that you don’t need expensive or material things in your life. You just need to surround yourself with the family and friends who mean the most. She also taught me to be selfless and to help others at any opportunity I get because you never know what others are going through.
Our team has never been as close as we have this past season, and Lauren brought us all together. When she couldn’t come to practice, it made me sad. But when she would come, everything would pause—she lit up the gym. Whether she was competing with us at practice or sleeping on the sidelines, she was a big inspiration to the program. Her presence will impact us for the rest of our lives.
I have never experienced a loss as hard as this one. She brought everyone in the Mount community together and helped make them a part of this journey like she did with all of her teammates. I will never forget the Nov. 2 game at Cintas Center and the pre-game ceremonies. Seeing all of the people on campus and then seeing everyone line the streets made me so joyful because it truly showed her impact and how far she was taking her awareness of DIPG.
Everything I do, I do it for Lauren—I do it with her legacy in the back of my mind. I perform to the best of my ability in the classroom, on the basketball court and within my everyday life because I know that’s what she would do. Lauren mentioned that she was worried about leaving her family and friends behind and that she didn’t want us to be sad. It has been the hardest thing I have ever experienced but I try to remain positive. Spending the final moments of Lauren’s life with her and the rest of my teammates was the hardest thing I’ve ever faced. But I have also have the best memories with her and I will continue her legacy for the rest of my life. Having my teammates, coaching staff, school and community behind me has been humbling. I plan on continuing to attend events and fundraisers for her and other DIPG patients.
—Meredith Hartfiel, senior, guard on the women’s basketball team
Lauren impacted me in ways that are hard to explain to people who weren’t on our team. She made me unafraid of bad news, death or anything unexplainable—it’s life. You can’t be upset and force an explanation when it’s not there. You have to take everything for what it is and do your best with what you’ve got. Always put a positive spot light on it—you don’t need to overlook the bad or ignore it but you can’t let it tear you down. That’s not what it’s for; that’s not what life is for.
My relationship with Lauren changed me as a student, a basketball player and a person. I have dreams and she taught me that there’s nothing stopping me. If have to take 50 different paths to get there then that’s what it will take.
The lessons that I value most from Lauren are strength, vulnerability, selflessness and heart. Lauren lived these values day in and day out without even having to try. That’s just who she was, that’s Lauren Hill. It’s simple: Our relationship showed me that all I need to do is be me—be happy, be positive, be truthful, and be the best version of me I can be. I plan to honor Lauren’s legacy by being strong, being selfless, giving a voice to the voiceless, and learning to be vulnerable. I’ll accomplish this by putting my whole heart and all my determination into Lauren’s mission and legacy—just like Lauren. The Mount family will always cherish and continue her legacy.
—Erica Walsh, senior, forward on the women’s basketball team
Never Give Up
Being part of the women’s basketball program was an honor and I wouldn’t have changed a single thing. This past season was more than just about basketball, it was about raising awareness for a disease.
This season has taught me so much about life and love, and I will forever be grateful for what Lauren has taught me, which was to cherish the relationships I have with those I love because one day those people could be taken away. She taught me to always believe in myself and to always work toward my dreams because nothing is impossible.
Before this past season, I took a lot of things for granted. I always thought I had more time. Now I know that I may not have time to achieve those things I have planned. Your life can be turned upside down in a minute, so don’t ever wait to do something or think you have more time because your life can be completely changed. I wholeheartedly believe that my path was meant to cross Lauren’s to teach me these simple life lessons. Life is a crazy thing and now, after knowing Lauren and the legacy she has left behind, I will never give up and I now live my life for No. 22.
What Lauren has taught me most about life is this: If you are faced with any type of challenge, big or small, it should never stop you from achieving your dreams. She has proven that anything is possible and I will forever carry No. 22 in my heart and on my back.
—Kaitlynn Maus ’15, former guard on the women’s basketball team
A Fierce Love for Others
There was something about Lauren that caught the attention of just about everyone who heard her story. What was it?
Was it the poignant fact that she, at the age of 18, had been diagnosed with an incurable brain tumor?
Was it that she was determined to play college basketball against these odds?
Was it that she, No. 22, would not give up?
As impressive as these facts were, I don’t think that is what grabbed our hearts. Here was a young woman who was handed a terminal prognosis but chose to see it not as a cruel act of fate, but somehow as a life challenge. She saw her diagnosis for what it was, but decided not to focus on that, but on what she might do for others in the remaining time she had on Earth. And the “others” who were calling for her help were the young children of future generations who might also have this terrible diagnosis but be helped with the research of the Cure Starts Now Foundation. She chose to use all her energy on fundraising to find that cure. And she certainly kept that promise and gave her all for that cause.
Dr. Martin Luther King once said, “An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.”
Lauren chose not to concentrate on her impending death but to commit every last bit of her energy to the little ones like “Super Luke” who, like Lauren, had also been diagnosed with this brain tumor.
That kind of fierce love for others in the face of one’s own pain and death was extraordinary.
—Nancy Bramlage ’67, SC, director of the Office of Mission and Ministry