GREENDALE, Ind. — Even after nearly a decade, the legacy of Lauren Hill lives on.
Lauren Hill Memorial Park has finally opened in the late Mount St. Joseph basketball player's hometown of Greendale. The groundbreaking on April 22 — Hill's number on her jersey — is a long time coming after originally being slated for spring 2020.
The park, which used to be the location of a landfill, is 80 acres and includes a dog park and bike trail. Additional amenities and recreational areas could be added to the park in the future.
The Friends of Lauren Hill non-profit has remained a strong component of keeping her story alive and advocating for pediatric cancer patients, especially those with DIPG. Friends of Lauren Hill was started by Greendale resident Tom Beidenharn in 2015 as he had a vision to create this park in Hill's honor. Beidenharn believes the park will foster a sense of community among Greendale residents and the surrounding communities.
The 19-year-old died in 2015 after a battle with DIPG, a rare form of brain cancer. Despite her battle, the teen lived by the motto "Never Give Up," and by doing so her story inspired thousands and brought attention to pediatric cancer. Though she fought off her cancer far longer than doctors predicted, she finally succumbed to the disease in April 2015.
Despite her passing, her story and legacy haven't slowed down or diminished, and she continues to touch many in the Tri-State and beyond. Sports legends such as Lebron James, Mia Hamm and Billy Jean King rallied behind her during her battle. She received the first "For the Love of the Game" award from the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame. Even after her passing, she was also honored with an ESPY award for "Best Sports Moment."
Now through this park, Hill can have an even more permanent and lasting effect on her community as her family and supporters continue to share her message of living life to the fullest.