The white swing that popped up near the Campus Center after Sing Song was donated by Lauryn Lewis Hines and her family to honor the legacy of her late husband, Kris Hines.
The two met through mutual friends at a church in Dallas and married at the beginning of 2014, and less than a year-and-a-half later, Kris was diagnosed with cancer. For two years, he endured treatment and died in October of 2017.
“After some time had gone by, my family was trying to think of a way we could honor him and his memory,” Lauryn said. “We wanted to also give something back to ACU.”
Lauryn, who graduated in 2008 with a degree in integrated marking communications and English, said ACU is a special place to their family: it’s where they made a lot of meaningful memories, friends and lifetime relationships. Since they knew they would be spending much time on campus, they thought it would be nice to do something in Kris’ memory.
The swing, Lauryn said, is part of their love story – from dating to engagement.
Kris was a graduate of Harding University, where white swings are a common feature across campus.
“They have this tradition there that is ‘three swings and a ring,'” Lauryn said. “The idea is, if you sit with someone three times on one of those swings, you’re going to get married.”
When the two were dating, Lauryn was an admissions counselor at ACU and visited the Harding campus twice –sitting in a swing with Kris during both visits.
“It was really just a coincidence,” Lauryn said. “I don’t think he planned it.”
Though he didn’t propose at Harding, he still did so by a white swing at her family’s house in Colorado.
“We had so it was like our ‘third swing’ even though it wasn’t on campus.”
As the family was considering how to honor Kris, Lauryn said there were other recommendations – naming a room after him and donating something to the pre-medical program – but none of them felt right.
“Our journey with cancer was about so much more,” Lauryn said. “It was about sharing our faith and the joy Kris had throughout that battle. It wasn’t about the medical stuff.”
Though her husband was a Harding alumnus, Lauryn’s family continues to maintain close ties to ACU. Her father, Guy “Mojo” Lewis, serves on the board of trustees, and they often return to campus for Homecoming and Sing Sing. So when the family began discussing was to honor Kris, it made sense to honor him on campus.
After brainstorming more, the family thought it would be nice to have a swing to tie ACU and Harding together and offer students something different to enjoy on campus.
The process started last summer, working with architects and Corey Ruff, associate vice president of operations, to put together a design. Though it is meant to resemble the swings at Harding, Dr. Jim Orr, vice president for advancement, said there are certain themes that tie it in with the university, one being its arches.
“It was specifically designed for campus,” Orr said.
Lauryn said they were thrilled when administration recommended the spot near the Campus Center.
During Homecoming weekend, there was a dedication ceremony for the spot. Lauryn said that initially, it was supposed to be just her family and close friends, but as the coming home queen, some classmates and other women on the court showed up to be part of it.
Dr. Royce Money, chancellor of the university, spoke at the dedication about the joy-filled life Kris lived and how the spot would always be a reminder of his legacy.
“It was a beautiful, very meaningful time for our family,” Lauryn said.
The next step is to add a dedication plaque to the swing so people will understand why it’s there.
“I’ve already gotten so many pictures from friends and family,” Lauryn said. “That makes me so happy.”
The Lewis family plans to continue working with Orr to consider placing more benches around campus.
“I am super honored and excited that there is so much interest. I can’t express how much that means to my family. One of the purposes of my life is to tell Kris’ story and the story of what we went through and how the Lord was faithful to us in that adversity.”