THIEF RIVER FALLS, Minn. — At first, 16-year-old Hannah Enge’s first pageant went exactly as you’d expect.
From evening gown, fun fashion, fitness to her platform, there was plenty to prepare for. Her mom said she was ready.
“9:30 at night Hannah would come in wearing heels and say okay mom ask me some questions, ask me some pageant questions,” Allie Enge, Hannah’s mom said.
Then it was time for the onstage interview.
“I was feeling confident. It was probably the most calm I’ve ever been for the pageant.”
With all eyes on her, she looked a little nervous as she answered the question.
“She paused but it was a pause no one else would have noticed,” Allie said.
Mid-sentence, Hannah fell to the floor. She’d suffered a seizure.
“I remember hearing screams. It sounded like something out of a horror film,” Hannah said.
“It’s horrifying but this is our life,” her mom said.
Two concussions just one week apart when she was 12, one from a volleyball game and one in gym class. The double impact concussion left her with a brain injury.
It’s caused epileptic, non-epileptic seizures and cataplexy which is described as a strong emotion or laughter that causes a person to suffer sudden physical collapse though remaining conscious.
At first, she would have nearly 30 seizures a day. Four years later, this is her first one in months.
“I’ve never even seen what a seizure looks like,” Hannah said.
She is also allergic to two major seizure medications. Any form of intense emotion can trigger one, like the excitement and nerves during a pageant.
“All the feelings compacted into one. It just happened,” Hannah said.
Laying on the stage, Hannah’s mom came to help when the curtain closed.
“There’s people screaming ‘oh my gosh, what’s going on’ but I said what are you going to do? What happens when this happens in school? What happens when this happens in hockey? What happens when this happens at home? She said I get up. Then I said well then get up and she did,” Allie said.
To a standing ovation and she explained how her pageant platform: SPARK played out in front of the whole audience.
“That was one of my many seizures. This is what I’ve been facing for the last four years. Any change of emotion this is what happens to me. I want to speak for those who can’t speak. Those who don’t have the opportunity like I have right here. I ignited my SPARK, thank you,” Hannah said to the crowd.
A story she’ll carry with her to SPARK the thousands just like her.
“I’m not going to let seizures stop me,” Hannah said.
She was the seconnd runner up in the International Miss Teen Minnesota Pageant.
Hannah’s platform for the pageant was called SPARK: Success, Perseverance, Appreciation, Readiness and Kindness. She plans to become a pediatric neurologist one day so she can help kids and families who are also dealing with seizures.