LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Hannah Merrel, a student at Brookhollow Elementary was diagnosed with leukemia at a the young age of 2. This caused her to lose the ability to walk on her own. Overcoming the odds stacked against her, the 8-year-old Lufkin ISD student had to learn to walk again.
Over time she challenged herself to overcome the many road blocks. Despite being so young, her parents Dalene and Ryan describe the obstacles she's battled for so long.
"She just stopped walking. Her legs all of sudden. Her legs hurt real bad. And she started running a fever so we took her to the doctor and they sent us to Texas Children's (Hospital)," Dalene said. "If she had to go to the bathroom, we had to carry her to the bathroom. She had to go back into a stroller just so she could get around."
But Hannah pushed herself, with the help of her brother, she learned all over again to walk, skip and even run. Last week she took part in the Run for the Panthers event.
"When we got there, I was like oh I can't do this. And I thought I wouldn't do so good," Hannah said.
Simultaneously, she built on her own resilience.
"Because my legs were tired during the thing and I couldn't stop," Hannah said.
But Hannah didn't stop even during moments her legs wanted to give out. She credited her coach who taught her to conserve her energy during the mile-long run.
"School is just not reading, writing, and math. It's this community of teachers, and coaches and administrators and students that see something in a child," Dalene said. "They know that they can do it but they might need that encouragement or that motivation to be pushed a little harder than what they would normally do on their own."
As Hannah puts it, all encouragement allowed her to zoom across the finish line.
"Just get up and go," Hannah said.
Out of more than 70 students, Hannah came in 11th place walking away with an award she's proud to call her own.