Local teen’s story is one of resiliency, hope and joy

Every now and again, someone is born that puts the “extra” into ordinary and proceeds to
be extraordinary throughout his or her life. World, meet Sean Logan Hanson. Those closest
to the now 14-year-old, just call him “Blue.”

Born on Sept. 12, 2006, Blue’s parents, Tim and Debbie Hanson, already knew there was a
chance their fourth child would be born with a cleft lip because of the 20-week ultrasound. Debbie explained, “As his mother, the first things that came to my mind were What did I do? and How did this happen?

From that moment forward, after all the emotions ran through us, his father and I started our research as to how we would care for him, feed him, etc. Around the 28-week mark, we contacted the local cleft team, which we interviewed and asked a ton of questions. A short time later, I was put on bed rest due to complications.”

Having just relocated to Bartlett from Savannah, Ga., the Hanson family felt out of place and away from the familiarities of home when at only 35-weeks, Debbie went into labor. She said, “Everything happened so fast, big brothers were called at school, we were so not ready, but knew this baby needed us as much as we needed him. The same day he was born, two doctors from the local cleft team came to the hospital to meet our baby and help us figure out what our next step would be.”

Debbie continued, “After leaving the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) and bringing our cleft cutie home, it was suggested that we look online for information about Shriners Hospitals. Blue’s father was also treated at Shriners Hospital when he was young. To me personally, it seemed way out of reach. I mean why would they want to help us? We had nothing to offer in return. We talked for a couple of hours over travel, the distance, the cost and decided to fill out an application then submit it. Dr. George Burrus, a plastic surgeon here in town on the cleft team was very happy to sign the needed paperwork and refer our newborn to the Shriners Hospitals for Children. In less than two month’s time, we were on our way to Cincinnati, Ohio.”

Poppy, an AL Chymia Shrine clown, took one little look at the radiant-red-haired baby boy and quickly nicknamed him, “Blue.” The name stuck. Since that time, Blue has had a total of 14 surgeries; with his first one, a cleft lip repair, at only 3-months-old in 2007. Debbie sang the Shriners Hospital’s praises, “Even with all these surgeries, we as parents were humbled when told Shriners Hospitals will treat children no matter the family’s ability to pay.” She smiled,
“What a blessing that was to us at that time.”

A happy “Blue” at 3-months-old, shares a smile just before his first of many surgeries.

Blue is now a down-to-earth teenager with a zest for life and a contagious joy that spreads to all who know him. The honors freshman attends Bartlett Academy and is active in DeMolay, a young men’s fraternity. Blue said having a cleft actually made him feel special. He said, “A cleft makes me unique in a way that most people cannot notice right away.”

In 2015, just before surgery number 10, Blue relaxes after doctors gave him “happy juice” prior to a bone graph.

Debbie finished with, “The thing about being a cleft parent is you never really know what to expect or how many surgeries there will be along with not knowing when it will all end. We have a Shriners Hospital family that has helped us so much along this journey. All I can tell you is that we are ready when anything arises and know Blue is always in the best hands, starting with his favorite drivers from our local Shrine Center.

When he is asked to share his story with groups, Blue never hesitates to say a big “yes.” Like our other three children, Shelby, Anthony Willard and Alexander, I tell him he can do anything he sets his mind to. He is one amazing young man to his father and me, as he doesn’t let anything hold him back.”

Sean Logan “Blue” Hanson was chosen by the Shriners organization “Portraits of a Soul” to be painted by artist James Williams. Blue’s portrait hangs on the third floor of Shriners Hospitals for Children Cincinnati to greet every child before they go into surgery.

As a way to “give back” Blue’s dad, Tim, has now become a shriner.

For more information on Blue’s story, check out bluescleftjourney.com.