Hannah began dancing when she was only three, studying ballet, tap, and jazz at a local dance studio. At Collinsville High School, she expanded her study of dance to include kick and pom routines, making the varsity dance team all four years and serving as captain her senior year. Hannah was honored with a Rising Star Award twice in high school—first as a freshman and again as a senior. Now, she’s about to start her second season with the Rams, returning as not just a cheerleader but as a team captain.
“Being a captain this year came as a huge surprise because so many of the girls are qualified for the position, and with my age, and it being only my second year, I wasn’t expecting it,” Hannah said. “But being captain in high school has really aided me in being a captain with the Rams this year. Working with my high school dance team and knowing how to teach and how to motivate is definitely helping me in how I work with the team now.”
“When my sister did her first round of chemo some of the Rams cheerleaders came to visit her, and just the smile it put on her face made me want to be able to do that for other kids,” Hannah said.
Hannah’s older sister Kellsie was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma at age 15, and while she was cancer free for four years the cancer returned in 2010 as an inoperable tumor near her heart. Further treatments failed to slow the cancer and in July of 2011, Hannah lost her older sister Kellsie after almost a five-year battle.
Hannah’s family soon after founded the Kellsie’s Hope Foundation in memory of Kellsie. “Before she died, some families from our grade school came together with donations and gave us a trip to Disney World. It was our last family vacation, and it just removed all the bad stuff we’d been dealing with for months. The mission of the foundation is based off of that—building support and helping provide otherwise unattainable gifts and trips—because we know what its like to be in that situation.”
“I was Cinderella during “Princess Week” at the St. Louis Children’s Hospital and this spring I was Elsa from Frozen,” Hannah said. "One little girl asked me to sing 'Let It Go' and while it was really embarrassing, I just couldn’t say no." Hannah also attended a “No MO Chemo” party as Elsa for a four year old little girl. Kellsie’s Hope provided the little girl with an Elsa dress, and did her hair, makeup, and nails. “She was so excited and definitely the cutest little princess.”
But, Hannah isn’t involved solely with the foundation, and she is often found at charity events as a Rams cheerleader. “Having that title means something to people. If I come as me it’s not the same. It’s more special when they get to meet a Princess or a Rams cheerleader, and that’s exactly what inspired me to try out for this team.”
Cancer has also influenced Hannah’s professional ambitions. A recipient of the Top Ten Percent Scholarship, she currently studies full-time at Southwestern Illinois College. After graduation, Hannah plans to attend the Goldfarb School of Nursing at Barnes-Jewish College in St. Louis. Her end goal is to become a pediatric oncology nurse.
“I guess you could say it’s really just become a part of my life,” Hannah said. “It’s just something that’s inspired me to help and give back.”