RANDOLPH COUNTY, N.C. -- There’s something special about Hanna Lambert: her big heart, her strong faith, that contagious smile. But it's on stage where Hanna is happiest.
“I don’t know where it comes from. She transforms into something different,” said Belinda Lambert, Hanna’s mom. “She just loves it.”
For the eight years Hanna danced, the steps came naturally and she has the trophies to prove it.
But over the past year and a half, things started to change. An art that once came so easily for Hanna was beginning to prove more difficult. And then earlier this year, the world came crashing down. Doctors diagnosed Hanna with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a progressive neurodegenerative disease for which there is no cure.
“Even when he told us that he thought it was, you think, ‘No, there’s no way,’” Belinda said.
ALS was never on Belinda’s radar and for good reason. According to the ALS Association, the average age of a person diagnosed with the disease is 55. Hanna was just 16 when she was diagnosed and, because she's so young, Belinda said she doesn't qualify for clinical trials.
“All these stories you see (of other people with ALS), they’re still functioning and working and doing stuff,” Belinda said. “And I’m thinking, look at these people and then I think, well Hanna has nothing left in such a short period of time.”
In the seven months since Hanna’s diagnosis, ALS has robbed Hanna of her mobility and she now relies on a device to help her breathe. Hospice started making visits to the Lambert home in August.
But through all the darkness, the Lambert family has seen so much light.
“All the support, all the prayers, all the cards,” Belinda said. “You just don’t realize the goodness in people and how many good people there are in this area.”
Hanna’s dance community, friends, family and total strangers have rallied around Hanna to lift her spirits. They’ve created shirts and bracelets, held fundraisers, got her to the beach, even donated a handicap-accessible van. And just a few weeks ago, Hanna got her dream bedroom -- a gift from her Sunday School teacher.
“She’s won a lot of hearts and she doesn’t even know she’s doing it,” Belinda said.
And while ALS has taken so much from Hanna, including her ability to dance, it will never take her sweet spirit or strong faith. And it’s through her favorite Bible verse, John 3:16, where she and her family find so much comfort.
“I can’t give up because God’s still performs miracles,” Belinda said. “But He knows what He’s doing. We as humans still question it, and that’s just because we’re humans. But He’ll take care of us.”
Hanna’s dance teacher set up a GoFundMe page to help cover expenses related to her 24-hour care. To learn more about Hanna’s journey with ALS or to contribute visit the GoFundMe page "Hanna's fight against ALS."