Celebrity Causes: The Hannah Storm Foundation

By , Guest Celebrity Contributor
The Hannah Storm Foundation (HSF) provides medical support for children and families suffering from vascular anomalies and their related medical conditions. These are more commonly referred to as "birthmarks." We fund surgeries and provide education about vascular anomalies, while advocating on behalf of the families who are seeking insurance coverage. Each year, one-in-ten children in the USA  is born with a birthmark that should be seen by a pediatric dermatologist, but they are still a little-understood condition that can result in glaucoma, brain damage, loss of limbs and even death.

I started the Hannah Storm Foundation in 2008 based on my own personal experience. I was born with a port wine stain over my left eyelid and below my  eye (nine out on ten babies born with this condition are girls). Growing up, I endured a series of procedures to minimize the appearance of the port wine stain. I had serial excisions, where surgeons literally tried to "cut out" the birthmark, as well as a "flesh-colored" tattoo, and laser treatments that left third degree burns under my eye.

Now, much better micro laser surgeries are available, but there are only two hospitals in the world (New York and Berlin) that specialize in these surgeries, and they are very expensive.

Without make-up, I appear to have a black eye, which I am asked about frequently. People say things like "what happened to your face?" and "did your husband hit you?" Needless to say, it's not fun to have to constantly explain my appearance. I still carry some of the self-consciousness about my birthmark, but it also brings many blessings. I know that I am loved and that it has nothing to do with the way I look. I am thankful for friends who never even "see" my birthmark, for parents who made me believe that I could do whatever I wanted, even if that meant being in front of a camera. They gave me the belief that with hard work and faith I could accomplish my dreams, despite any limitations.

I am so proud of the work done by HSF in the last three years. In 2010, we funded out first of several surgeries for Tingyi Yan from Southern China. He had multiple surgeries, which dramatically reduced the appearance of the port wine stain covering nearly half of his face. He will be undergoing his sixth, seventh and eighth surgeries this year, along with two other children from Slovenia and the United States, all supported by HSF.

Through the efforts of the HSF, advocates, doctors and parents, children who would be ignored by insurance companies and excluded from their peers are getting the help and attention they need. The goal of the Hannah Storm Foundation is to inspire individual potential and to promote an active and fulfilling life for these kids. When a child is born with a birthmark the parent tells them, "you have been kissed by angel." Our goal is to be an angel for these children and their families.

To make a donation to the Hannah Storm Foundation please visit the donate page.

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ESPN SportsCenter anchor Hannah Storm started the Hannah Storm Foundation in 2008 based on her compassion and empathy for children suffering from vascular birthmarks. Born with a vascular birthmark under her left eye, also known as a "port wine stain," Hannah's childhood experience was spent undergoing…

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