Hannah Grace Venable made Laura Bush Middle School in Lubbock, Texas, just a little brighter. She participated in student council, choir, swimming and little league baseball. But all of those extracurriculars were just hobbies. Hannah Grace’s real love was cheerleading.
Hannah Grace, who was born with Down Syndrome, never let the disorder hold her back. Her classmates and family members described her as “full of life,” according to KAMC News. On Friday, while she was out shopping with her mother, Karla, Hannah Grace suffered sudden cardiac arrest and died at the age of 15. She was about to start eighth grade.
Now, both her family and her classmates are being force to mourn her unexpected loss. Kaitlyn Lueb, who has been close friends with Hannah Grace since kindergarten, told KAMC News that she and Hannah Grace raised money for the Salvation Army together and spent time together during cheerleading practice. Lueb said that losing someone like Hannah Grace is “just so hard you don’t even think it’s real.”
Lueb explained that Hannah Grace’s life wasn’t easy or perfect, but her persistently positive attitude in the face of imperfection is what made her seem indestructible.
“… She had this spark about her and she thought she was awesome, which she was. She was just a really sassy girl and I love that about her, it really stands out,” Leub told KAMC News. “She just makes everyone have a brighter day or just be a better person.”
Hannah Grace’s parents, Keith and Karla, said she wanted to be a cheerleader ever since she heard an announcement at school that the team was having tryouts. Her parents told KCBD News that she went through the same tryouts as all the other girls, where she cheered in front of judges, and attended all the clinics. Then, in 2014, she was named honorary cheerleader for the 2014 football season. Mondays became Hannah Grace’s favorite days, because she could watch her favorite show, Dancing With The Stars, and practice cheerleading.
“It’s just something we didn’t ever know she would be able to do,” Karla told KCBD, with tears in her eyes.
In 2007, Keith and Karla found Hannah Grace unresponsive on her bedroom floor after having fallen out of her bed, and they didn’t know how much she would ever really be able to do. For days, Hannah Grace lay unresponsive in a hospital bed in Lubbock, while doctors said she had suffered significant damage to her spinal cord.
“For the first month, we weren’t even sure she would make it,” Keith told KCBD. “She was completely paralyzed on her left side.”
Then, she spent four months in The Children’s Hospital in Dallas, where she began an intensive rehab program. Hannah Grace made a full recovery, and the Lubbock-Cooper School District, where Keith had been a teacher for 20 years, raised tens of thousands of dollars to help cover Hannah Grace’s treatment.
Seven years later, Hannah Grace was a part of a bubbly pack of cheerleaders.
A GoFundMe page titled “Queen Hannah Grace Venable” was set up by a friend to raise money to help support the Venables during this heartbreaking loss. Those who would like to donate can also bring check or cash donations to the Lubbock-Cooper School District, where the district’s central offices are collecting donations for the family.
“She gave life everywhere she went,” the GoFundMe page set up in Hannah Grace’s name read. “She loved cheering with her girls at Laura Bush Middle School and being with her therapy horse Hank. Spending time with her daddy watching the Rangers and playing Challenger Little League with her Royals were things she greatly enjoyed. She was a champion in the Special Olympics and was cherished by her church family at The Springs Fellowship. Anywhere Hannah went was a dance party, and if she was wearing a crown, all the better. She overcame so much and taught us how to live in full joy no matter the circumstances.”
Image: Taylor Langston/YouTube