Guest post by Gerri Shaftel Constant

“I don’t want to be popular”
—Hana Hwang

Thirteen-year-old Hana Hwang was certainly not looking for attention when I first met her in early January. In fact, she was was not comfortable with attention at all—in her experience attention from strangers was rarely positive.

“I don’t want to make friends for the wrong reasons.”
—Hana Hwang

Hana is tiny and her quiet voice can be difficult to hear. If you don’t take a second look and listen closely to what she has to say, you might just overlook her. But as you’ll see, on camera, Hana can fill the screen. And with a microphone her words and her wisdom come through loud and clear.

“When you just look at a person, you don’t know what they can do”
—Hana Hwang

Hana didn’t know what she could do. She didn’t know that she had the power to change the way people view their own lives and the way they treat others. She didn’t know that she could become a hero to strangers, just like Selena Gomez became a hero to her.

Since Hana’s story went public, people all over the world have started to respond, and Hana has been touched by each and every shout-out. One support video that stood out to her is YouTube user, Shenzai305’s video. He is the young boy in the above video clip at 5:10 who calls out the “haters.” He gives an example of the negative comments he’s seen and that Hana has had to cope with. What you can’t see in that very brief clip is the abundance of love, support, and thoughtfulness he expresses. You can watch Shenzai305’s video here in its entirety to see why Hana finds him so special.

Hana knows her time on earth will likely be cut short. That’s the unfair nature of the genetic mutation that causes Progeria. Still, Hana has no bitterness. She is full of optimism about what might lie ahead. While she’s here, she is working toward graduating high school and starting a business. More importantly, she hopes to be a force of kindness and acceptance toward kids who are different.

If her story touched you, please leave a shout-out here or on her Facebook page.

This is a guest post by Gerri Shaftel Constant. Gerri is the Writer/Producer, “The Courage of Hana Hwang” from Fox 11 News Los Angeles.