13-year-old Hannah Rowan was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in 2003. In addition to diabetes, Hannah also has hyperthyroidism, for which she takes a pill every night to regulate her thyroid hormone levels. The latest obstacle for Hannah in the past 12 months was being diagnosed with celiac disease after a blood test and an endoscopy at CHOP. Hannah eats a gluten-free diet and is being treated by the Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition at CHOP. This has been an adjustment in eating for her, in food preparation for her family, and in lifestyle. Since becoming gluten free, Hannah has maintained better control of her sugar, gained weight and grown inches.
All of these auto-immune conditions, however, don’t slow Hannah down or stop her from doing the things she loves to do. Hannah enjoys swimming, playing soccer, riding bikes and scooters, dancing ballet and hip hop, singing and acting.
Hannah loves the spotlight. She has performed the National Anthem at various local events, sang as a guest with the popular Chatter Band, and acted in local plays including The King and I, Les Miserables and Annie. She competed in the 2010 National America Miss Pageant and won the pre-teen Miss Pennsylvania Actress competition. She went on to complete nationally in Los Angeles, California.
Hannah has watched her friends, family and community give selflessly to help her and to support diabetes, and this has inspired Hannah to give back. She has been fortunate enough to have joined forces with Ironman Andy Holder in May 2010. Andy and Hannah had an immediate connection and began brainstorming on ways they could raise awareness in their community. One of their creations was “Hannah’s Helping Hands,” a communication network for children living with diabetes.
Visit http://www.hannahshelpinghands.com/ where children living with diabetes can discuss problems, cares and concerns with other peers living with type 1 diabetes.
Hannah’s has been working with JDRF since age 4. She has served as Wawa Sneaker sales representative and a Junior Ambassador of JDRF, which allowed her to meet the mayor of Philadelphia, the Governor of PA and other officials. In June 2011 she attended the 2011 Children’s Congress in Washington DC as a delegate to lobby for a cure. It provided her with memories, experiences and friendships she will cherish for a lifetime.
But Hannah doesn’t only focus on diabetes when it comes to charitable works. She has also raised money to procure supplies for the SPCA, coordinated army care packages, worked with Alex’s Lemonade, and sent money to Haiti and Japan relief efforts through school.
She has been involved with Toys for Tots, and even asked her friends to bring non-perishable food to her birthday party for the local food pantry. She collected three carloads of clothes, food, toys and home supplies for people in need. This project, she called the “love package” earned her a scholarship via the Kohl’s KIDS Who Care contest. She has also joined the non-profit charitable community “Feel the Warmth” where she has held coat drives and school supply drives for those less fortunate in our community. She has had the opportunity to participate in distribution events where she has seen the sincere gratitude of the immediate recipients. She also earned a partial scholarship from Prudential for her participation in the first ever Iron Andy Foundation event in Skippack, PA in October 2010.
When asked what advice she had for children newly diagnosed with type 1, Hannah replied “You do not have to live your life with limits. You are the same you, just with more responsibility. Dream big. You can make all of your dreams come true!”