by Rev Robert Wendel
For the first 18 years of her life, there was nothing unique about Lauren Hill. She was a bright, stunningly attractive blonde high school student who wanted to play college basketball, wearing a game jersey embroidered with the number 22.
Then, suddenly without warning doctors discovered an inoperable cancerous growth inside her brain that would, in a matter of months, surely and quickly take her life. Yet, Lauren began attending freshmen classes and faithfully practicing with new teammates at Mount St. Joseph College. After all, her fondest wish was to play in her first collegiate contest. But, the deadly cancer was closing in on her.
Her resolve, spirit and courage was celebrated last November 2nd when the tipoff for the lady’s game against Hiram College was moved up on the year’s schedule and played at Xavier University’s Citas Center, before a sold-out crowd of 10,250 and a regional television audience. Miss Hill scored the first and last baskets of the Mount’s 66-55 victory over Hiram College.
So many admiring fans had known to go and cheer Lauren on because she had allowed her very personal story to ignite a regional and national campaign against forms of childhood cancer, doing ratio and television interviews, holding two call-in telethons and requesting individual on-line donations of $22.00. On her October 1st birthday, this crusader was still hoping for more donations.
Amazingly, by her funeral in April, even attended by the Hiram squad, Lauren’s foundation had raised well over 1.4 million dollars. One of the newscasters who interviewed Lauren said, “The only time she broke down (crying) was when she thought of all the young kids who were dying of the same awful disease.” The slogan for the effort was “Don’t Give Up!” Not yet two decades old, Lauren Hill taught us a great lesson, a lesson worthy of our applause.
Billy Graham wrote, “A happy life is not one filled with only sunlight, but one which uses both light and shadow to produce beauty. Hard times can become a blessing because they form a backdrop for the radiance of the Christian life. In the words of Thornton Wilder: “Without your wounds, where would your power be? In love’s service, only wounded soldiers will do.”
Our church is certainly blessed with the financial resources to support several local, regional, and national causes. Each time we personally or collectively do so, we extend the love of Christ to people in our wounded world!