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Sumner 7th-Grader Honored for Helping Sick Children

Twelve-year-old Hannah Grubbs, a nonprofit founder and the 2016 recipient of the Governor’s Volunteer Star Award, can teach us a lesson.

Grubbs has taken what may appear to be a personal disadvantage and turned it around to help sick children.

Grubbs is bald. She was born with alopecia areata, an autoimmune disease that causes hair loss. This led to years of questions and acts of kindness from people who thought she had cancer. Hannah wanted to pass that kindness on to other children who do have cancer.

She did just that in August 2013 with the launch of Sumner County-based charityBows & Ballcaps to show love and encouragement to children who have lost their hair either temporarily because of cancer treatments or permanently because of alopecia or other conditions.

The nonprofit collects new bows, ballcaps and other accessories through donations from companies and individuals and then distributes them through children’s hospitals and a care package program.

4,000 gifts given 

In 2 1/2 years, Bows & Ballcaps has given out more than 4,000 items. The charity has grown to work with five partner hospitals, including Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital in Nashville, East Tennessee Children’s Hospital in Knoxville, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Children’s Hospital of Atlanta and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital in Ohio.

On Feb. 10, Grubbs was locally honored with the Governor’s Volunteer Star youth award for Sumner County during a meeting of the Rotary Club of Hendersonville at Bluegrass Yacht & Country Club.

“We appreciate Hannah so much for her volunteerism here in Sumner County and for being a model citizen,” said Sumner County Executive Anthony Holt. “We’re proud of her.” Her story has found a broader audience. Grubbs has been asked to speak to various school groups, Girl Scout troops and churches. She has inspired others to participate in service projects and collect toys and other items for children at partner hospitals.

Grubbs, who lives in Hendersonville, is a busy seventh grader at Sumner Academy in Gallatin. She is a cheerleader for her school, a member of a swim team, on her school’s student council and active in her church’s youth group.

In 2014, Grubbs received The Hendersonville Star News’ Citizen of the Year award.

Reach Dessislava Yankova at dyankova@mtcngroup.com or at 615-575-7170. Follow her on Twitter @desspor.

Recipients of the Governor’s Volunteer Star Award are chosen with help from their fellow county residents or their county mayor and other officials for their innovative approach and generous commitment to improving their community. Nominees are judged based on the community’s need of the volunteer service provided, initiative taken to perform the service, creativity used to solve a community problem and impact of the volunteer service on the community. Recipients from every county in Tennessee will be honored at the Governor’s Volunteer Star Awards ceremony in Nashville on Sunday, Feb. 28.

For more information about Volunteer Tennessee and the Governor's Volunteer Stars Awards, visit volunteertennessee.net.