Maddie Hill's life celebrated by Dover community
The impact that Maddie Hill had on the Dover community could easily be felt inside the high school's football stadium on Friday night.
Hill, a 2015 Dover graduate and former member of the girls' soccer team, was honored with a candlelight vigil at Dover High School Athletic Stadium on Friday. Hill died on Thursday after her third battle with cancer, something that made her an inspiration not just to the Dover girls' soccer team but also many in the York area.
After friends and loved ones wiped tears from their eyes, pastor Jeremy Drake of Church of the Open Door reminded them how Hill had always cherished her friends and her community. And that the amount of people in attendance was proof that Hill had touched and inspired so many lives.
"I know that Maddie believed, she believed that she would recover, and she did twice," Drake said. "She believed that she would be there for her family and that they would be there for her, and they were and she was.
"Look on the track tonight, more and more people, whose lives were touched and impacted by who she was and what she accomplished in front of us all."
Hill's parents, Dawn and Scott, thanked the community for its support and said it was touching to see how many people cared about their daughter.
"It's amazing how much she's loved by everyone," Dawn Hill said. "I'd like to thank everyone for their support through her battle."
Three of Hill's former Dover soccer teammates — Maxine Herman, Kylie McCall and Brooke May — also spoke to the crowd about their friend's life and showed a slideshow of pictures. The photos showed Hill playing soccer, attending school dances and spending time with friends, always with a smile on her face.
Prior to the speeches and presentation, everyone in attendance placed a paper bag with a candle around the field's track. The bag's were marked with written statements from each person thanking Hill for what she had done for them.
"I think that's what tonight is about, that is what our remembrance is about, the words that are written on these luminaries are about, our renewal of hope," Drake said. "Moment by moment, day by day."
Hill was first diagnosed with lymphoblastic lymphoma, a form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, when she was just 8. After being cancer-free for five years, Hill was diagnosed in 2013 with a blood disorder known as myelodysplastic syndrome. She recovered that year only to have the disease return one year later.
A lifelong soccer player, Hill played for a Dover team that captured the school's first league title in 2012. Her subsequent battle with cancer became motivation for teammates as they repeated as champions the following season. She also participated in Penn State's annual dance marathon fundraiser, THON, and was a source of inspiration for many in York County.
Before everyone in the crowd departed on Friday, Drake left them with a final message.
"I know that Maddie, while she is not here visibly, is not gone," he said.