MILFORD, Ohio -- Lauren Hill’s mom said it's "bittersweet" to see her daughter in the excited eyes of athletes on a basketball court.
“It’s very much the way Lauren looked at her big game, when she played her first college game. It’s kind of fun to see the high school kids get the same excitement she had,” Lisa Hill said.
Despite their rivalry, Milford and Turpin High Schools played in the annual Game of Hope Saturday; the fundraising game the benefits cancer research through The Cure Starts Now.
Lauren was diagnosed with DIPG, a deadly brain tumor, at age 18 during her senior year at Lawrenceburg High School, but that didn’t stop her from playing basketball at Mount St. Joseph University.
Lauren sunk two layups before a sellout crowd of 10,000 people in her first collegiate game. Her efforts to raise awareness evolved into a major fundraising campaign, The Cure Starts Now. Lauren increased her fundraising goal to $2.2 million days before her death. She died on April 10, 2015, but the community will never forget Lauren’s legacy.
Milford Coach Kristi McKenney said the idea for the fundraising game started shortly after Lauren’s death.
“It was a no-brainer for us,” McKenney said. “Our kids were passionate about it. That team from four years ago still spills into where we’re going now. They started it, and the community has gotten behind it. It’s an ongoing tradition."
McKenney said Lauren’s courage is what brought the two communities together.
“It’s a game between two rival schools -- two different communities -- that come together to support one cause. I don’t want that message to get lost,” McKenney said.
Michelle Atherton and her son, Alex Boggs, were among those who looked forward to this year's game.
Alex was diagnosed with DIPG on Oct. 16. He has had four surgeries since.
"He’s one of the strongest, most resilient people I know," Atherton said. "I’m so proud of him.”
The Cure Starts now has raised $10 million for cancer research over the last 10 years, Lisa said.
“Never in my wildest dreams that I would have imagined my child from a small town in Indiana would have had an impact on the nation,” Lisa said. “DIPG awareness and research. It’s hard for me to comprehend the magnitude of the impact. Her story inspired so many people."
Proceeds from T-shirt, raffle ticket and concessions sales goes toward The Cure Starts Now Foundation. Their next event, the Once In A Lifetime Gala, will take place April 7.