BALTIMORE, Md. – The Coppin State women’s basketball team showed its support to Mount St. Joseph freshman forward Lauren Hill, who is fighting an inoperable brain condition and has been told by doctors that she won’t probably live beyond December.

Following Monday’s practice, team members autographed a gray Coppin State t-shirt, signed a card of encouragement, took a team picture with players holding up the words “Thank You Lauren #22” and student-athletes Genesis Lucas and Vanessa Neal completed the #LayupforLauren challenge. The shirt and card will be mailed to Hill and Mount St. Joseph College in Cincinnati.

“It felt good doing the challenge for Lauren,” Lucas said. “She’s inspired me to take what I do more seriously and become more dedicated because not everybody gets the chance to do everything that they want to do. We are definitely praying for her and she’ll be in our thoughts throughout this season.”

The #Layup4Lauren challenge helps raise awareness and money for The Cure Starts Now Foundation, a non-profit charity that raises funds toward a cure for DIPG (Diffuse Instrinsic Pontine Glioma). The Eagles athletics department also made an unspecified donation to the foundation. To complete the challenge, Neal and Lucas had to spin around five times and make a layup with their non-dominant hand.

Hill’s illness has united the entire athletics community as WNBA, NBA and NFL players have dedicated their seasons to her. Many athletes including Richard Sherman, Mia Hamm, Cappie Pondexter, Diana Taurasi and Swin Cash have posted personal messages and videos of support to Hill on their Twitter pages.

Her goal of playing her first collegiate game was realized this past Sunday when she scored the first and last baskets of her team’s 66-56 victory over Hiram College in front of 10,000 fans at the Cintas Center in Cincinnati. The NCAA granted MSJ an exception to move its opener up prior to the allowed opening date.

It’s a story that has inspired many because of how positively Hill has dealt with her condition.

“I never thought I would play on a college court, put my feet on the floor and feel the vibration of the crowd,” said Hill following Sunday’s game. “This game has been amazing and everything that happened today was amazing. This is a really good day. Not many people knew about DIPG before me, and now that they do, we can get research going to cure this cancer. I won’t be around to see that, but it’s going to help so many people. That’s why the support can’t end with this game”

DIPG is an incurable form of brain cancer typically seen in children between the ages of 5 and 7. It affects approximately 100 people in the U.S. per year; only 10 percent of children diagnosed with DIPG live for more than two years. It is extremely rare in people Hill’s age. Little progress has been made in the treatment of DIPG, which has a 0 percent survival rate.

“Lauren’s fight and love for the game has moved us,” Coppin State head women’s basketball coach Derek Brown said. “She’s a strong young lady and has displayed remarkable courage throughout her diagnosis. We are thankful that we’re in a position to assist and raise awareness for DIPG.”

Members of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC), Coppin State begins its 2014-15 season schedule on the road against North Carolina State on Sunday, Nov. 16 in a game beginning at 7 p.m. The Eagles have made five postseason appearances under Brown: NCAA (2005, 2006 & 2008) and WNIT (2007 & 2009) in their history and are looking to post their fourth consecutive winning record.

Courtesy: CSU Sports Information


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