Editorial: Aiken has truly lost one of the good ones
Her family loved her. Her alma mater loved her. And her community loved her. That's the conclusion anyone could reach about Meredith Legg Stapleton after meeting her or reading any of the numerous news stories about her.
The 26-year-old USC Aiken graduate passed away on Monday after battling cancer, leaving lasting memories with seemingly everyone who knew her.
Legg Stapleton was clearly someone who always looked on the bright side of things, even in times of hardship. Her ready smile and optimistic attitude was an inspiration for many and an excellent example of how to celebrate life.
She was diagnosed with a rare form of eye cancer just after her senior basketball season at USC Aiken, but in a testament to her impact on the community, residents rallied around her. In one instance, a collection of balloons, cards of support and other keepsakes adorned her apartment after she announced her diagnosis. While Aiken is a community that certainly knows how to help those in need, the outpouring of support for Legg was especially poignant. USC Aiken held a number of fundraisers for her, including selling special car decals with her jersey number of 24 and wristbands to support her cause. That kind of support doesn't come from just having a standout basketball career, which she did. It's really indicative of a person who cared about and brought joy to her community.
Legg Stapleton grew up in West Virginia and North Carolina, but truly considered Aiken her adopted home. She ranks as the all-time leading scorer in USC Aiken's history, and after graduating in 2009, she worked as a financial analyst at URS Corporation. She also coached at Mead Hall Middle School, leading the girls' team to two consecutive Aiken-Augusta Private School Division II titles.
Off the court, Legg Stapleton also landed a spot on the TLC show “Say Yes To The Dress: Atlanta,” a program that profiles brides as they search for the perfect wedding dress. Her story was shared across the country as she prepared for her wedding with her high school sweetheart, Christopher Stapleton. It was clear that she was loving every minute of the experience leading up to her special day at St. John's United Methodist Church in Aiken. She was also always very faith driven, which became unwavering even in the face of heart wrenching circumstances.
It's that positive outlook and unique spirit that our community celebrated and will undoubtedly remember.