Inspirational Hanna - a deserving Woman's Way Awards finalist

Munster Rugby fan Hanna with hero, Keith Earls
Munster Rugby fan Hanna with hero, Keith Earls

A young schoolgirl who unintentionally became the face of a hard-fought Cystic Fibrosis campaign in Kerry this year has been selected as one of the finalists of the 2017 Woman's Way Children's Awards.

Seven-year-old Hanna O'Connell - daughter of Marisa Reidy and granddaughter of Martina and Denis Reidy from Knockeen, Castleisland - is one of a number of youngsters from across the country to be recognised by the magazine, which aims to reward the fantastic achievements of children in Ireland.

Hanna's mom Marisa - who earlier this year shared Hanna's story as part of the hugely successful campaign for CF drug, Orkambi - explained that she heard about the awards from a friend.

When she looked up the categories and criteria she felt she wanted to enter her daughter, who she describes as a true inspiration for how she deals with her condition on a daily basis.

"Hanna is only seven, but she goes through more than any child her age should ever have to," Marisa explained.

"CF is a nasty condition which requires daily medications, physio sessions and nebulisers every day, as well as food supplements, antibiotics and other treatments just to keep her well. For the past year and a half, she has had to be admitted to hospital in Limerick every three months for two weeks at a time, missing out on school and friends and everything else a child her age should be enjoying. Amazingly though, she never complains. She just takes on her condition head first and truly shows us the meaning of a glass-half-full attitude."

Marisa explained that despite her condition, Hanna embraces life and everyday activities as best she can and loves gymnastics, swimming and horse-riding. Like her mom, she is also an avid Munster rugby fan and just one meeting with some of her Munster heroes earlier this year was enough to leave an impression - with both Simon Zebo and Keith Earls tweeting about her happy attitude and infectious smile after meeting her. Hanna also featured in Con Dennehy's inspiring book 'Kerry Bravehearts' which was published last year.

Having entered Hanna in two categories of the competition - 'Overcoming Adversity' and 'Superhero' - Marisa and her husband Declan received news this week that had been chosen as a finalist.

The first class pupil at Abbeydorney NS will feature in a special Woman's Way awards special on September 12th with the other finalists, with the overall winners of the competition's eight categories being announced later.

"If anyone knows about overcoming adversity it's Hanna and we're so proud of her," Marisa said.

"She is a true inspiration and is already a superhero in our eyes, and while we don't need a trophy or an award to prove that, it's absolutely wonderful to know that those behind the awards can see how special she is too."

Kerryman

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