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Launch for Lauren

April 20th, 2016

Launch for Lauren

Tribute continues for second year April 22 along the Ohio River

As long as Lauren Hill’s family continues to support the Launch for Lauren, the breathtaking balloon launch will continue, said organizer Sarah Powell Briceno, who asks folks from throughout the region and Tri-State to keep open Friday evening, April 22, for the second annual event.

The date remains the same as last year in tribute to Hill, who wore basketball jersey No. 22.

All proceeds go to the Cure Starts Now Foundation, the fund-raising organization the teenage girl made extremely public during her battle with Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma, the rare brain cancer that took her life last April.

The launch time at 7:22 p.m. also remains the same. Activities begin at 6 p.m.

Each ballon will cost $1, and can be purchased in either gray, teal or orange. Gray symbolizes the brain, teal (greenish blue) was Hill’s favorite color, and orange represents Lawrenceburg High School, from which she graduated, and the Lawrenceburg community, said Powell Briceno.

The event also will include a raffle with donations from businesses, particularly local ones. Folks purchase tickets and put them in containers next to the items they want. You win if one of your tickets is drawn from a particular box.

Cincinnati radio station Q102’s Heart and Soul Patrol will present a live show from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the levee, and Hoxworth will be on location for those who want to donate blood in Hill’s memory.

“We need at least ten volunteers to fill up and tie balloons, to sell raffle tickets, sign people in, and other things,” said Powell Briceno, adding that Trade & Industrial Supply will again furnish the helium free.

More than 1,000 balloons were launched last year, and the team is anticipating 2,300 will blanket the skies this year after the event gained national and world attention.

She and friends organized last year’s inaugural program in less than a week, said Powell Briceno, amazed at the turnout.

“It was way bigger than I ever imagined,” she said. “It was a way to say thank-you to Lauren for sharing her life with us, and a way for the kids to say goodbye to her.”

Powell, who never met Hill, said the young woman’s “Never Give Up” attitude and courage inspires her.

“She was so strong,” said Powell Briceno. “This is a celebration of life for her great accomplishments.”

Kids, adults, grandmas, grandpas, uniformed personnel, and folks of all creeds, colors, and origins took part in what proved to be perhaps the most significant day of the year throughout Dearborn County.

As the multi-colored balloons rose, tears rolled down the eyes of participants, journalists, police officers, firefighters, and others, but there also was an air of joy and calm.

All balloons will contain a code to take you directly to the DIPG website to make a contribution. Last year, one balloon traveled 500 miles to Delaware.

Hill, born and raised in Greendale, made national news when she played in a basketball game as a freshman for Mount St. Joseph University, following the diagnosis.

She raised more than $1 million for pediatric cancer research with a telethon for The Cure Starts Now Foundation. The Foundation, which will have a representative at the event, has since raised another half million dollars.

Folks who want to volunteer should text Powell Briceno at 812-292-0705. Here is the Facebook link to order balloons in advance: https://www.eventbrite.com/.../launch-for-lauren-tickets.