When asked, “What does Selena mean to you?” 13-year-old Hana Hwang answers simply, “She’s my hero.”
In a recent video posted by the progeria patient, Hana thanks Selena Gomez for a recent visit and displays a bracelet she’s made for her, and the matching one she’ll keep for herself. Other than an array of beads and some juice, the only item that sits in front of Hwang is a framed picture of her with the teen superstar:
After a little help from Ryan Seacrest, who contacted the singer directly after hearing Hana’s story, Gomez was able to visit the Los Angeles Children’s Hospital in December. Afterward, Hana posted her video on YouTube and received an overwhelming response. The current view count on her message is over 1.2 million. The Children’s Hospital was so moved by the outpouring of support by Selena and her fans, that they tweeted a thank you message to their followers saying, “We have been getting a lot of response from Hana’s video to @selenagomez Thank you all for sharing this amazing story!”
Hana’s battle with progeria means she has aged eight to ten times faster than other children her age. Progeria is a rare genetic disease and there is currently no cure. While the average life expectancy for people living with progeria is only 13 years, Hana happily celebrated her 13th birthday this past September and she, her family, and the staff of LA Children’s are doing all they can to make sure that Hana has as many days ahead of her as possible.
According to the hospital, Hana was determined not to cry while Selena visited, saying she “didn’t want to look like a baby”. Her courage throughout her struggle with the disease show that she’s quite the opposite – mature and strong beyond her years.
As Hana continues to live one day at a time, she starts each morning the same way, by listening to Gomez’s hit “Who Says” which features the particularly inspiring lyric, “You have every right to a beautiful life”.