Lights, Camera, Action: Local Girl with Illness Shares the Screen with Kevin James in the Latest Happy Madison Movie

FRANKFORT, Ill. – 12-year-old Hannah’s wish to become a movie star came true with help from Kids Wish Network, Happy Madison Productions and the Frankfort Firefighters Association.

Hannah is a bright young lady who has been through a lot in her short 12 years, but you couldn’t tell that from just talking to her. Her happy demeanor and beautiful smile mask the fact that she is suffering from a life-threatening condition.

In 2007, Hannah was diagnosed with Vagal Mediated Bradycardia, a condition in which her heart slows and sometimes stops altogether. Just last year, Hannah underwent surgery to implant a pacemaker into her chest to monitor her heart rate and to stimulate her heart when its beating slowed too much. Currently, Hannah’s doctors are looking into replacing her pacemaker with another one that would monitor her blood pressure and may stop her from having many of her fainting spells before they begin.

In addition, Hannah also suffers from Turner Syndrome, a chromosomal disorder that has causes her hands and feet to swell as well as causing her to have a smaller stature than other kids her age.

Hannah’s fondest dream is to become an actress when she grows up; when her mother Juanita received a call from children’s charity Kids Wish Network about the possibility of Hannah having a wish granted, the little girl jumped at the opportunity to make her dream a reality.

It was to Wish Coordinator Madeline whom Hannah confided her wish of becoming a movie star. With the help of Wish Funding Specialist Doris and the assistance of the Frankfort Firefighters Association who funded the whole wish, Madeline organized the trip of a lifetime to Boston for the starry-eyed Hannah and her family that included accommodations, a trolley tour, a cruise, meals and, to ice the cake, the chance to do a little acting in the upcoming movie called “Zookeeper” starring Kevin James.

When it came down to arranging for Hannah to have some screen time in a movie, Madeline knew just who to call: Adam Sandler’s Happy Madison Productions, who had always been there for the Wish Kids.

“The whole thing was really awesome,” said Hannah of her wish trip. “I think Madeline did a great job [organizing it]…if it wasn’t for her, all of this wouldn’t have happened.”

Though she was a little nervous on the set at first, Hannah warmed right up after her make-up was done and her wardrobe was picked out. To make it even better, actors Kevin James and Ken Jeong broke the ice with laughter and made the little girl feel extremely comfortable on set.

“When I met Kevin James, he was very funny…in my scene, I was walking with a tour guide and holding a stuffed giraffe,” said Hannah.

After filming her scene, Hannah presented Kevin James, Ken Jeong and director Frank Coraci with gifts she picked out in Boston. “They were so happy…it was a ball [working with them],” said Hannah’s mother, Juanita.

Apart from filming in Boston, Hannah had a blast enjoying the limo rides, trolley tour and brunch cruise that her Wish Coordinator had arranged for her to experience.

“She was definitely treated like a celebrity everywhere we went,” said Juanita. “It wasn’t just an on-set thing. This was absolutely everyone everywhere! We were made to feel special everywhere we went. I never would have believed that it would have been so grand.”

Now that she’s back home, Hannah has told all of her friends about her experiences on the set and in front of the cameras; they’re all disappointed that they’ll have to wait almost a year before the movie is actually released into theaters, but, for Hannah, it’s definitely worth the wait to see the fruits of her labor.

According to Juanita, Hannah’s wish is something that she’ll definitely never forget: “The memories that she’s going to have for her lifetime are just amazing. For you [at Kids Wish Network] to have granted her wish…the absolute generosity was so overwhelming. You just can’t put it into words. Thank you.”

Kids Wish Network would like to thank the following for helping to make Hannah’s wish extra special: Happy Madison Productions, Frankfort Firefighters Association, Boston Harbor Hotel, Northeastern Limousine Services, Odyssey Cruises, Sunset Limousine Service, Hard Rock Café, Cheers Boston and Old Town Trolley.

Kids Wish Network is a nationally recognized non-profit organization dedicated to infusing hope, creating happy memories, and improving the quality of life for children. If you know a child between the ages of 3 and 18 who may be in need of its wish granting services, please call 727-937-3600 or toll free 888-918-9004. For more information on Kids Wish Network, visit their website at www.kidswishnetwork.org
Written by: Alicia True

Leave a Reply

48,632 kids helped this last fiscal year through our many programs and services.

Our Mission

Kids Wish Network is a charitable organization dedicated to infusing hope, creating happy memories, and improving the quality of life for children having experienced life-altering situations. Kids Wish Network assists children and their families through several key programs.