CINCINNATI — Mount St. Joseph University gathered Saturday for a basketball doubleheader to kick off "Mount Madness" and to continue Lauren Hill's message of awareness for the cancer that took her life.
The 19-year-old played in four games as a Mount St. Joseph University freshman in 2014 and raised more than $2.5 million for cancer research before she died five months later.
Lauren made an inspiring and lasting impact before passing away from Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG), a rare and fatal pediatric brain tumor, on April 10, 2015.
"To have her in such a situation where she knew she was going to lose her life and still found it important to do that," said Melanee Wagener, associate director of athletics at Mount St. Joseph University. "It really signifies what she has on her stuff, which is never give up."
"Forever 22" was proudly on display during the event Saturday night as the Lions warmed up. Both men's and women's teams have games while the university celebrates Lauren Hill in its fifth annual Mount Madness.
"She would be honored that she made that ripple and that impact, not just on Mount St. Joe or Xavier, but on the community as a whole," said Lisa Hill, Lauren's mother. "She taught us so many life lessons and she inspired so many people."
Lisa said she sees her daughter's legacy everywhere at Mount St. Joseph, and also knows Lauren's impact stretches far beyond the school.
"Lauren, when she was fighting, she did encourage and inspire so many people just to live in the moment and enjoy life and little things that we forget every day," said Lisa.
Mount Madness raises money for a charity dedicated to brain cancer research and for the school's scholarships in Lauren's name. The scholarship is another way Lisa Hill said her daughter's legacy still lives on.
"She did exist," said Lisa. "She was part of my life and she's still part of my life, and I want her to be alive, whether it's through conversation or raising research funds. That makes my heart happy."
Lauren's family has raised more than $2.4 million for research so far, and continue to collect donations for the cause.