Hannah Burkhardt

Rider Profile
HometownDowners Grove, IL
UniversityUniversity of Illinois
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I am a senior here at Illinois majoring in Communication with a minor in French. I am originally from Downers Grove, and attended Downers Grove North High School. I have a sister who also attends Illinois, and a dog who I miss on a daily basis. In the spring semester of 2014, I took part in a study abroad program in Paris France, where I lived for 4 1/2 months. It was an incredible experience that truly changed my life. On campus, I am involved in the 1867 Society, an organization that encourages undergraduates to donate back to their campus, and FYCARE, a sexual assault prevention and support program. When I find some free time in my schedule, I enjoy watching Netflix, eating delicious baked goods that my lovely roommate makes, and, while visiting home, snuggling with my dog.

Personal Statement

I have two specific personal connections to cancer that stick out in my mind. In 7th grade, my uncle died of esophageal cancer. This was my first experience with cancer. All of my grandparents were, and still are for that matter, alive, along with all of my aunts, uncles, cousins, parents and my younger sister; suffice it to say, I had never had anyone close to me pass away before this. The experience was jarring and very upsetting to me. My uncle lived in Connecticut, so we didn't get to see him all that much. When we did spend time with him, he was incredibly sweet, wonderful, unique and caring. He died 9 years ago and we still have an unopened box of his things in our house, because it is too painful for my mother to open it. Another connection I have to cancer is one that I share with thousands of people from my hometown. A good friend of my sister and I was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer several years ago in her junior year in high school. She is truly one of the sweetest girls you will ever meet. She is immensely talented on the flute, was a drum major in the marching band, and was in many honors classes. The community has slowly learned of her condition, though she tries to keep it rather quiet, a pretty impossible task in high school. She has since recovered and beaten the disease, which everyone could not be more grateful for. My sister and I had grown apart from her in the couple years before her diagnosis, but my sister truly did grow up with her. I became close with her in marching band and know her well. At the time of the diagnosis, there are a lot of people surrounding her who may not have otherwise. Though I know all of these people did really care about her, I didn’t want it to seem like I was just another person crawling out of the woodwork who would just disappear again once everything was “better”. I did check in on her however, though not as much as I should have. Doing the Illini 4000 would be a wonderful way of showing her that I have always cared about her and will always be there when she needs someone. She and every other cancer patient deserve everything we as Illini and as a world community can do for them. The Illini 4000 is so inspiring to everyone who hears about it. Young students donating their summer to bike across the country for people they have never met but deeply care about is an amazing thing. The people we meet along the way will change our lives, as we hope to change theirs.