MEMPHIS, Tenn — Hannah Grace Winkle’s world was turned upside down when her brother was diagnosed with cancer. After living in China most of her life, Hannah Grace and her family moved to Memphis where her brother received treatment for cancer at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
Winkle said leaving her home, friends and culture at the age of 13 was difficult, and watching her brother battle his sickness took away her childhood innocence.
In recognition of her family's fight, the Northwestern Mutual Foundation named Winkle as one of this year's recipients of the Childhood Cancer Sibling Scholarship.
Northwestern Mutual’s Childhood Cancer Scholarship Program was created to ease the financial burden on families affected by childhood cancer by helping to fund school tuition and fees.
According to the Coalition Against Childhood Cancer, the average cost of battling childhood cancer for one family starts at $833,000, including medical costs and lost parental wages.
This year’s program marks the largest group of scholars to date, with 50 students nationwide receiving a $5,000 renewable scholarship (for a total of $10,000).
Northwestern Mutual said each recipient was affected by childhood cancer, either as a survivor or sibling, and has demonstrated strong academic performance.
While living in hospital housing, Hannah Grace had to take on the responsibility of caring for her siblings while her parents supported her brother as well as making new friends and experiencing losses along the way. Hannah Grace hopes to one day impact the lives of children like those she spent time with during her brother’s treatment.
“I saw hope in a new way as my brother defeated cancer and I experienced a different kind of joy within our family," Winkle said. "Although it was an extremely difficult experience, it brought our family closer."
She is currently attending the University of Tennessee in Knoxville to become an elementary school teacher.