Never Give Up. This phrase can often seem like a cliché, trotted out whenever someone is going through a tough situation. But in Lauren Hill’s life, this simple phrase took on a decidedly new and deeper meaning. The inspirational teenager passed away last night at the age of 19, succumbing to a brain tumor. But she went out fighting. She never gave up.
Many first heard of her story last November when she was allowed to pursue her dream of scoring a basket during a college basketball game. As onlookers watched, Hill scored a layup 17 seconds into the game, leading to a heartwarming standing ovation. The video went viral and she became an internet sensation. But this was no pity party. Hill was a fighter, continuing to practice for as long as her body would allow, always pushing her limits physically and mentally. As a matter of fact, her doctors had told her she would not live past Christmas and, in true Lauren fashion, she lived past Easter
Her story is a difficult one to navigate through the lens of youth ministry. It is, in some regards, a heartbreaking story. This was a strong, driven young woman, taken long before she could experience some of the things many of us take for granted. But it is also a hopeful story of determination. Upon her diagnosis, she chose faith over fear. She decided to face her life and condition head-on and live each and every day as fully as possible. Lauren understood what Jesus meant when he described “a rich and satisfying life” (John 10:10). She also dedicated her last couple of years on this earth to fighting for others. She became a voice for the fight to find a cure for pediatric cancer so that other young people may not have to face this same fight one day.
In one of her final interviews, Hill said, “Life is precious. Every moment you get with someone is a moment that’s blessed.” This sentiment becomes very real in a situation like this and it is a stunning reminder to discuss with your students. If you are interested in tools and resources through which to help discuss Lauren’s life with your students, please consider signing up to be a “Hoovey Insider” through Interlinc. Hoovey is a powerful film, based on the true story of Eric “Hoovey” Elliott, who was also diagnosed with a brain tumor as a teenager while playing basketball. Thankfully, his story played out differently and he is still with us today. This film and our accompanying teaching tools would be an excellent avenue through which to engage your students with regards to the fragility of life, faith through overwhelming circumstances and the resolve to never give up.
For more information on Lauren’s life and her work to find a cure, please visit this Facebook page. And click here to sign up for free resources and the chance to screen Hoovey at your church for free, or email us directly.