Elena Delle Donne had chills when she first heard about Lauren Hill.
The WNBA star was brought to tears the more she read about the Mount St. Joseph freshman, who has inoperable brain cancer.
Delle Donne will attend Hill’s game on Sunday as a fan, moving a speaking engagement to make sure she could be there.
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”It’s a once in a lifetime thing for her and I want to be there to support her,” Delle Donne said.
”She had that much passion for the sport to get one more game in there. It’s so amazing to see as an athlete her love of basketball. To see what she’s doing to play that game is really miraculous and so incredible.
”The impact she’s going to have on the world is the most important thing. It’s very important to continue her legacy and I’m going to do my best to get the WNBA to remember her.”
She isn’t the only WNBA player who will be at the game. The Indiana Fever will have a contingent at Xavier on Sunday among the 10,000 people expected to attend the game. The Fever honored Hill, who is from Indiana, earlier this month at a Pacers preseason game. The team made her an honorary member of the Fever.
Delle Donne wants to do more. She reached out to her agent Lindsay Kagawa Colas to see what they could do for Hill.
A few hours later, Colas was talking with Kristin Bernert, who is the senior vice president of business operations for the New York Liberty. Bernert had read about Hill and was also deeply moved by her story. So the two thought of ideas of what they could do to help.
They came up with a website – http://www.1more4lauren.com/.
It serves as a chance for people to learn about Hill and offer their support. There are Facebook, Instagram and Twitter posts from athletes across the sporting world, including Maya Moore, Becky Hammon, Mia Hamm, Richard Sherman and Kyle Singler.
”We want to make this woman feel the love from the basketball community,” Bernert said. ”We also want to raise awareness for the disease she’s fighting. Raise some money. There’s a lot of momentum around her right now. How do we remind people the disease is still there eight or nine months from now?”
Bernert said she has talked to officials on teams across the WNBA and they plan to do more next year when the league starts its season. But for now, the website is really becoming a central point for people to help.
Bernert said she received an email from an AAU basketball team in Iowa which wanted to use the logo from the website on T-shirts this weekend in honor of Hill when they play in a tournament.
”It’s really amazing to see how at every level from the grassroots to college and the pros, people want to get involved and support her.”
Letters, video tributes and cards have been pouring in across the country to Hill. South Carolina coach Dawn Staley took it a step further. Her team makes wooden stools for the locker room for each player on the Gamecocks. The school made up one for Hill with her name and number and sent it along.
”This really puts things in perspective,” Staley said. ”This game is loved by everyone and she’s definitely an example of someone that loves this game.”
College teams are sending jerseys with the No. 22, Hill’s number, to Mount St. Joseph. The hope is that Hill will sign the jersey and then the schools can auction them off to raise money to find a cure for Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Gliomas (DIPG) from which she is suffering.
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