Hana Allen talks via FaceTime with Darius, who will be her partner when they attend the 2016 Rio Olympics in August. Also pictured, from left, back row is Patti Powelson, owner/operator of the McDonalds in Pleasant Hill and Hana’s aunt Sue Wild. Sitting next to Hana on the left is her mom, Heather Allen and on the other side of Hana is her brother Zeke. (Times Photo by Lola Shrimplin)
By Lola Shrimplin
Times Editor ...Hanna Allen is going to have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to attend the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, thanks to McDonald’s and the Ronald McDonald House Charities. ...12-year-old Hanna was diagnosed with VACTERL association when she was young, and has been served by Ronald McDonald houses throughout her life. ...According to the National Institute of Health, VACTERL association is a disorder that affects many body systems. VACTERL stands for vertebral defects, anal atresia, cardiac defects, tracheo-esophageal fistula, renal anomalies, and limb abnormalities. People diagnosed with VACTERL association typically have at least three of these characteristic features. Affected individuals may have additional abnormalities that are not among the characteristic features of VACTERL association. ...Hana has spent time at three different Ronald McDonald House Charities throughout her life, with the most time spent at the one in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Darius spent time at the Ronald McDonald House in Cincinnati as well, at the same time as Hanna, but the two got to see each other for the first time on Monday, over FaceTime. ...There are eight children from the United States going to Rio with the McDonald’s Olympics Kids Program, and over 100 children from all over the world will be attending. ...The eight children selected to attend the Olympic Games and participate in the opening ceremonies were chosen based on shared experiences with Ronald McDonald House Charities. ...Hana will be taken by limousine to the airport, General Manager and Vice President of Heartland Region McDonalds said. ...There will also be a Twitter page with the hashtag #hanatakesrio so people can keep up with the events. ...Hana will be leaving on July 31 and arriving in Rio on August 1, then will leave Rio on the morning of August 7 and arrive back home on August 8. ...“I’m excited to see the gymnasts and the jumping horses,” Hana said. ...With the VACTERL association, Hana is not prevented from leading a normal life, and she loves to ride horses. Although she had to give her horses up when the family moved to Pleasant Hill, she is able to ride the neighbor’s horse, Heather said. ...Patti Powelson, her son Andy, who is the Area Supervisor for McDonalds, and Jessica James, the general manager, were all in attendance at the Pleasant Hill McDonald’s on Monday, to share in a cake presented to Hanna when she spoke to Darius. ...Hana was told of the trip to Rio at the Longfellow House Ronald McDonald House on Cherry Street, near Children’s Mercy - Hospital Hill on July 19, when she showed up to volunteer and prepare meals for families who are staying there. She was shown a video of loving messages from special people in her life - doctors, nurses, teachers and neighbors from across the country.