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“You never know how strong you are, until it’s the only choice you have.” - Lauren Hill
“You never know how strong you are, until it’s the only choice you have.” - Lauren Hill
December 12, 2014 7:00 AM CST


Full Contact Project Management


Not sure about you, but I do know this: Stories about kids really touch me. Only this story is about a girl who is dying, and may well have already died by the time you read this. So I ask you to honor her by reading this short piece, which is all about a college basketball player named Lauren Hill, and the last game she would play.

Lauren was a star basketball player in high school, and had the dream of playing college ball. On her 18th birthday, Oct. 1, 2013, she committed to play for Mt. St. Joseph, a Division III college. Just a few weeks later, as her senior season began, she found out that she was terribly ill, and finally diagnosed with an inoperable brain cancer – Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG). Suddenly, playing college basketball seemed far-fetched, as she would have to undergo chemotherapy and radiation concurrently with playing ball during the season.

Well, Lauren returned to the basketball court, but no longer with her same set of all-star skills. Today, her vertigo causes dizziness, and the tumor no longer allows her to shoot with her dominant, right hand. No longer is she the athletic star, but she does practice with her teammates. To compensate, she has to shoot with her non-dominant left hand, and since turning her head side to side makes her dizzy, she has to move her entire upper body to look around.

But Lauren had an idea: Take those aspects of her condition, and turn them into a challenge to raise awareness and financial support for DIPG. This was much the same as the “Ice Bucket Challenge” this summer that aided ALS research.

Her challenge goes like this: You have to spin around five times and then shoot a layup with your non-dominant hand. If you can’t do it, you donate $10 to DIPG. If you can make the basket, then you get to challenge somebody else, or another contracting company, a supplier – maybe even a client. You get the idea!

With her worsening condition, it appeared that Lauren would not fulfill her dream, which was to play in a college basketball game, wearing #22. The NCAA moved opening day to Nov. 2, and the game was moved to Xavier University’s Cintas Center, which seats 10,000-plus.

I watched that game, which was broadcast live on Fox Sports, due to the huge, national interest in Lauren, her dream and her cause. Lauren gave us three really good lessons, which I pass along to you:

  1. Never give up. Never give in (her motto).
  2. Play for a cause greater than yourself.
  3. Focus on the little things – moment by moment.
During this season of holidays, take the time and cherish your freedoms, your friends and your family. Build the legacy you want to leave them.

About the Author

Gary Micheloni is a working project manager, speaker, author, consultant and coach. He has severals years of industry experience, including a background as a licensed general engineering contractor. For further information and insight on the Full Contact Project Management approach, write Coach Gary at


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