IWU and ISU’s women athletes come together to support Lauren Hill

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Emily Considine

 

Athletes from Illinois Wesleyan University and Illinois State University joined together at IWU’s Tucci Stadium on Tuesday, Oct. 28 to film a video in support of Division III Mt. St. Joseph’s Lauren Hill, who is battling an aggressive brain cancer.

“When we practiced with ISU, we watched the video on Lauren and asked the two teams to come together with an idea that would let Lauren know she has inspired us and that our thoughts were with her and her family,” said IWU women’s head basketball coach Mia Smith.  Katie Winge from ISU came up with the idea of creating a video. “It was just going to be IWU and ISU basketball.

Somehow we ended up with all athletes from both schools,” Smith said.

Hill, a 19-year-old Lawrenceburg High School graduate, was diagnosed with Diffused Intrinsic Pentene Gleoma, a type of terminal brain cancer, in November 2013. Doctors believe she may not live much longer, so the NCAA agreed to allow Hill’s team to play their season opener two weeks earlier than it was originally scheduled. The game will take place on Saturday, Nov. 2 at Mt. St. Joseph University. Hill will be able to play her first and only collegiate game. More than 10,000 tickets went on sale Wednesday morning and quickly sold out.

IWU’s and ISU’s athletes formed themselves into the shape of the number 22, which is Hill’s basketball number. When the sun went down, the football stadium lights were turned off and athletes held up their cell phones in the air to illuminate the 22. It was all done in a 24-hour period thanks to the help of IWU’s Associate Athletic Director Mike Wagner, the coaches and all athletes involved. “I haven’t seen the final product yet, but I am certain it will be great,” Smith said.

Many people have been reaching out across the region and country. Gray ribbons, a symbol to raise awareness of brain cancer and to recognize those affected by it, are on display in Lawrenceburg and Greendale. The support for Hill is increasing on social media, in Hill’s neighborhood and throughout Bloomington and Normal.

According to an article on usatoday.com, Lauren Hill is a soul engine. All she wants to do for the rest of her life is remind people how good they have it and that they need to make that goodness matter for everyone. That includes kids with the cancer she has, which is inoperable, incurable, swiftly fatal and receives very little attention. Hill is doing all sorts of interviews, locally and nationally. “”What keeps me going is remembering why I’m here,” Hill said.

The Cure Starts Now Foundation is selling gray rally towels featuring a design by Lauren Hill at the Nov. 2 Mount St. Joseph University women’s basketball game at Cintas Center in Cincinnati. The towels can also be purchased online. Proceeds benefit The Cure Starts Now Foundation.