Passing into the next life, certain that the God she put her faith in welcomed her, Hannah Wertens peacefully left this earth on Saturday, August 11th at the age of 15. Born on February 17, 2003. Hannah was the daughter of Deborah Kirchner of Portsmouth.
Though Hannah’s physical presence is no longer, her influence will remain indefinitely as her boundless energy, enthusiasm, talent and infectious smile will live in the hearts and minds of all who knew her or knew of her.
Having been diagnosed with leukemia at age two, and having subsequent diagnoses at ages five and thirteen, Hannah beat cancer three times. She did not die from cancer but from the effects of treatment. There was tremendous strength and resilience in her. But, Hannah did not let the diagnoses define or limit her. Instead of retreating, Hannah reached out. Her Facebook page and hashtag (#heysuperstar) were known in all fifty states and all continents. Her many friends supported her, but she was also a source of great strength and inspiration to them.
Many honors were bestowed upon Hannah, including: Leukemia Society Girl of the Year (2013), being celebrated by the Dana Farber Cancer Institute and singing “God Bless America” at a Red Sox home game at Fenway Park for 36,000 fans (2017), appearing in an Alex & Ani commercial featuring her bond with Big Sister Brianna Dorsi from The Big Sisters Program, and this past July being featured with her mother on scratch cards at Burger King to promote curing childhood cancer. She gave of herself tirelessly all the time, but every September, for Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, she completed her self-designed “Hannah Project”: sharing her story of fighting cancer, collecting craft items and interesting bandaids for children at Hasbro, and baking hundreds of cupcakes adorned with yellow ribbons for her classmates.
Hannah was not only a superstar in the virtual and medical world, she also excelled in academics and community activities. She was in the ensemble with the Swanhurst Chorus performance of Mary Poppins, performed in Newport Children’s Theatre productions, sang in Portsmouth High School chorus and had a singing and acting role in the play Harvey. At PHS, Hannah’s class of 2021 sponsored a bracelet drive, and senior, Karyna Gomes, put on a fundraiser for Hannah as her Senior Project. At PHS, Hannah was an honor roll student as she had been in her younger years.
As a graduate of All Saints STEAM Academy, where Hannah was a student grades K-8, she embraced all the opportunities and played drums, performed in plays and even designed smart and forward-thinking STEAM projects and was an ambassador for the school.
Defined by her love of family, friends and faith, Hannah was a role model. She loved fiercely and believed deeply. Hannah’s faith sustained her in her life journey of healing. She was active at both St. Barnabas (Portsmouth) and First Presbyterian (Newport) churches where she loved youth group activities. In Hannah’s room there is a sign that reads, “I know God won’t give me more than I can handle. I just wish He didn’t trust me so much.” Hannah had a profound faith, but also sparkled with a sense of humor and sported a tiara like no other.
Surviving Hannah are her mother, Deborah Kirchner, and sister, Cynthia Kirchner, grandparents, Robert and Frances Benevides, uncle, Bob Benevides, father, Kevin Wertens, cousins, caretakers, friends, classmates, and a social media community of thousands.
Calling hours on Wednesday, August 15th, 4:00pm to 8:00pm at Connors Funeral Home, 55 West Main Road, Portsmouth, RI. A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at St. Barnabas Church, 1697 East Main Road, Portsmouth, on Thursday, August 16th, at 10:00am with burial to follow at St. Columba Cemetery, 465 Brown’s Lane, Middletown.
Donations to support the family are much needed and greatly appreciated. Please see the Connors Funeral Home site and click the ‘Appeal for Donations’ button. If you prefer to donate by check: Hannah Wertens Fund, Bank Newport, ℅ Betsy Fitzgerald, 528 West Main Road, Middletown, RI, 02842.