After spending a year away from Hawaii to receive medical care for a rare form of bone cancer, Big Island Babe “Roarin” Lauren Selden on Wednesday arrived at the Hilo International Airport where she was greeted by a cheering crowd of friends, family members, and fellow derby girls. Among those supporters was Hallie “East Coast Ranger” Adolf, one of the coaches of the Big Island Babes and a skater for the Paradise Roller Girls.
Adolf, who helped to arrange the homecoming, said neither Lauren nor the rest of her family knew they were going to be greeted by the crowd of supporters who passed out leis, hugs, and handshakes to Lauren and her family as they made their way down from the airport’s arrival terminal.
Lauren had no difficulty returning the hugs despite the crutches and knee brace needed to help her recover from the surgery she received while on the mainland, but after a few rounds of squeezes she took a seat next to friends and derby mates who buzzed off questions while encircling her as though she were a local celebrity.
Lauren’s stardom spreads beyond the drove of supporters she had at the airport however. While being treated at the Seattle Children’s Hospital Lauren became known to the world after appearing in a video in which she and other cancer patients lip-sync and dance to Kelly Clarkson’s pop hit “Stronger.” Lauren is seen holding a sign which reads “Fighter” in the video, which received a YouTube response from Clarkson herself. After going viral on the internet newspapers and media giants like ABC News, the Huffington Post, the New York Daily News, and the Hawaii Tribune-Herald wrote their own stories about the patients’ and their video. As of Wednesday that video had received over two and a half million views on YouTube.
Lauren’s fame and fighting spirit does not come without its downsides however. Besides all the negative health and social aspects Lauren and her family have to deal with because of the cancer, there are also costly medical bills and continuous travel expenses to worry about. Because of the lack of medical care and facilities available in Hawaii needed to treat patients like Lauren, she has to return to Seattle once a quarter for medical checkups, and just like the medical bills, those travel costs can add up too.
Lauren’s father, Todd Selden, said the family has already received a significant amount of help from family, friends and the derby community. “People have been very generous here and back in Seattle,” he said. “It’s been amazing.” He added that the whole affair is a bit “overwhelming,” but that Lauren and the family “will prevail.”
Paradise Roller Girls is a women’s flat-track roller derby league based on the Big Island of Hawaii. PRG’s mission is to promote a healthy, athletic lifestyle in their community through the alternative sport of roller derby.