Student Awarded by National Cystic Fibrosis Organization

HERO HONORED: Union Girls Cross Country/Track coach Mike Stanton, left, and Dr. Randall Young, a pulmonologist from the University of Alabama, pose with Hannah Hensel. Hensel, who has cystic fibrosis, was awarded by the Heroes for Hope program for her ability to inspire hope in others.

Courtesy Susan Hensel

The Heroes of Hope Living with CF Program Advisory Panel has named Hannah Hensel as the December 2005 award recipient in recognition of her positive attitude and tenacious spirit. The Heroes of Hope program honors people with cystic fibrosis (CF) who give hope to others.

Hannah, a 15-year-old student at Union High School, was chosen from a nationwide pool of candidates for her ability to inspire others with CF through her positive attitude, commitment to pro-actively manage her health, determination, community outreach and achievement. The Tulsa resident received her award on January 26 during a ceremony given in her honor at CF Solutions, a non-profit CF pharmacy in Tulsa.

Hannah, who has gracefully dealt with the challenges of having CF since she was diagnosed at just nine days old, lives her life by the philosophy that she can do anything that a normal 15-year-old girl can do. She refuses to allow CF to stand in her way of aspiring toward her many goals, which include going to college to study hotel and restaurant management, having a family of her own, and even aspiring to compete in cross-country track and field in the Olympics. It is this unwavering strength that Hannah’s mother, Susan Hensel, believes has helped her daughter to stand up defiantly in the face of such adversity.

“Hannah never forgets that she has CF and is extremely diligent about following her medical routine and practicing regular physical activity. However, she will never, under any circumstances, allow this disease to control her life. CF is certainly a part of who she is, but she will never let it define her,” says Susan Hensel.

In order to help her live as healthfully as possible, Hannah makes running a top priority. Although she is a freshman, Hannah is already a star cross-country runner on the Tulsa Union High School varsity team, and recently helped the team to victory during the biggest statewide meet of the year. Hannah recalls that right before this meet, her track coach and nominator for the Heroes of Hope Living with CF award, Mike Stanton, inspired her and her teammates by stating that one of them was about to run the best race of their entire life. Hannah was determined to be that person, and by the end of that meet, she accomplished her lifelong goal of running two miles in under thirteen minutes—she finished in 12 minutes, 51 seconds, her fastest time ever.

“Hannah is a shining example of what it means to be a Hero of Hope, evident through her conscientious health management, dedication to fitness, and optimistic attitude,” says Dr. Randall Young, Heroes of Hope Living with CF Panel Member. “We’re thrilled to recognize Hannah as an inspiration to the entire CF community.”

Hannah is faithfully committed to educating others about CF and raising funds to further CF research. To help achieve these goals, Hannah and 30 of her friends organized a team called Hannah’s Bananas to participate in the 2005 Great Strides Walk to Cure Cystic Fibrosis, a yearly CF event that takes place in Tulsa. Hannah’s Bananas raised $1,874 towards funding CF research and the team looks forward to raising funds again this year. Hannah is also proud of having spoken to several civic groups about living with CF, and hopes to partake in additional speaking opportunities in the future. Hannah maintains a 4.0 GPA in high school, and her favorite subjects are history and geometry. She is a member of the National Junior Honor Society and regularly volunteers for service projects at school and church. She enjoys spending quality time with her mom Susan and father Jim, and her older brother James, all of whom Hannah says provide her with the support she needs to face every day with hope.

Updated 02-22-2006

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