CDO freshman twirls away from tragedy and into success - The Explorer: Sports

CDO freshman twirls away from tragedy and into success

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Posted: Wednesday, February 6, 2013 4:00 am

No one ever wishes to go through a painful experience in life, but it is because of her recovery from scoliosis and active involvement in the Tucson community that Canyon Del Oro freshman Hannah Johnson had been named Miss Pima County Outstanding 2013.  

It was in seventh grade that the first signs of scoliosis were detected for Hannah.  Her mom, Lori, noticed something was wrong when she noticed Hannah could no longer stand up completely straight.

“It was before she had a baton twirling performance I told her to stand up straight and she just looked at me and said ‘I am mom’,” Lori said. “I was like ‘Oh yeah, something is wrong here’.”

Those fears of something being wrong were confirmed after Hannah and her mom visited the doctor not long after.  The diagnosis was scoliosis. Scoliosis is when a person’s spine is abnormally curved and, if severe enough, is either treated with a back brace or surgery.

“I was shocked, that initial shock,” Lori said. “Your only daughter, not that that’s all that matters, but I mean, here you have a healthy kid and then suddenly you find out she has scoliosis.”

For the next year, Hannah routinely went in for X-rays, which were required for the doctor to keep an eye on whether her back was getting worse or better.  

The results were not good, as she was getting worse to the point that Hannah’s back had a 64-degree curve, which meant surgery was required.

“When I first heard about having scoliosis I was afraid that I would have to get surgery,” Hannah said. “I knew that there could’ve been complications with it that I might not be able to walk or be able to twirl. Before I had surgery that’s what mainly scared me too.”

Hannah underwent a double rod spinal surgery and stayed in the hospital for a week until returning home where she rested for another week.  Hannah said the continual support from friends and teachers helped her through it all.

“The support really helped me through it and in return I want to be there to support others too,” she said.

Hannah wasted no time in giving back to others.  While going through surgery at Tucson Medical Center she heard about the Children’s Miracle Network, which helps support and raise money for children’s hospitals.  According to TMC, more than $3.4 billion has been raised since 1983 by the Children’s Miracle Network.

“I just fell in love with what Children’s Miracle Network did and I wanted to be a part of it,” Hannah said.  

She heard that the Miss America Organization helped fundraise for the Children’s Miracle Network so she immediately signed up to become a part of that. 

“They do fundraisers pretty frequently,” she said. “Sometimes we even go to the hospital and talk to kids and take pictures.”

But that’s not all that Hannah does.  By being a part of the Miss America Organization, she picks a specific service project for the year.  Because of her personal experience of scoliosis, Hannah felt strongly about making her platform about that, which she called “I’ve got your back”.

“It was really personal for me, so for my platform, I wanted to go around and talk to people and help them gauge and do the test to see whether they had scoliosis,” Hannah said.

Hannah’s investment back into the community is not the only thing to be highlighted.  Her academic excellence is clear with a 4.0 GPA, and her return to baton twirling after surgery.

For eight years Hannah practiced and competed in baton twirling not only at school, but also in local competitions.  She is the only baton twirler at CDO and says she enjoys the football games the most, as she is able to perform fire baton twirling.  The support and cheering chants of “Hannah!...Hannah!...”, by CDO fans keeps her doing what she loves. Within this next year she will compete at regionals and hopefully nationals for baton twirling.

For now, Hannah hopes to continue her work with the Miss America Organization and the Children’s Miracle Network.  This May, she will be going for the Miss Arizona Team and then hopes to go on to the Miss America Outstanding Team.  

After high school, Hannah hopes to attend the University of Arizona and pursue a degree in the medical field where she hopes to help patients who have scoliosis.

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