While many 12-year-olds spend their summers at the pool, camps and on family vacations, Hannah Fowler is busy chasing after a national championship title and running her own charity, Hugs from Hannah. Fowler will compete at the 2015 USA Triathlon Youth & Junior National Championships on Aug. 2 where she hopes to stand on top of the podium after a third place finish in 2014.
As much as she dreams of winning a championship, she also dreams of impacting the lives of foster children through her charity. After a large 10th birthday party, she began to wonder what foster children did on their birthdays. Her mother Shannon Taccalite told her they probably did not have much, so Hugs from Hannah began in 2013 with the purpose of throwing birthday parties for foster children who would not usually have one. Since then, Fowler is finalizing paperwork and insurance to work directly with foster children by herself. In the meantime, she holds fundraising drives for various needs such as school supplies and bicycles to give to the children.
“I just want to make foster kids happy on their special day because I think they should have all the opportunities and chances that everybody else has,” Fowler said.
Fowler has worked closely with a local nonprofit organization called 4 Children’s S.A.K.E., based near her hometown of Parkland, Florida. It’s been instrumental in the growth of Hugs from Hannah, allowing Fowler to work with the organization and learn how the charity functions. She now meets with the foster children every week to play and talk with them.
Triathlon came into Fowler’s life at the young age of 6 when she rode her bike alongside her mother who ran every morning.
“One day I decided that I would try and run with my mom. She didn’t think that I could do it but I ended up being really fast. When I was old enough to join my swim team at school, I joined, which caused me to start triathlon,” Fowler said.
Since then, Fowler has competed in two national championship races and a countless number of local events. Her favorite and strongest leg of triathlon is biking. In her free time she enjoys surfing.
Fowler has mastered the balance that comes with the multisport lifestyle at a young age, considering she keeps both training and her charity at the forefront of her mind on top of school. She will move into the youth elite ranks next year, where she hopes to mentor her team on the draft-legal circuit. Fowler trains with her team, The South Florida Lightning, four times a week for three to four hours at a time during the summer and trains with her school swim team and individually throughout the school year. South Florida Lightning Coach Racheal Wood has worked with Fowler for four years now and has helped shape her into the athlete and person she is today.
“I have really enjoyed watching her develop into an extremely gifted athlete and young lady,” Wood said. “She is super helpful and enjoys mentoring her teammates through teaching and demonstrating in order for them to be successful in the sport, even when they are in her same age group. She is very caring, loving, generous, conscientious and cooperative. All these traits shine through both on the field and off.”
As Fowler continues to grow, she hopes triathlon and Hugs from Hannah will grow with her. Her drive and determinedness not only keep her moving forward, but also make coaching and parenting her extremely fun.
“She has a huge heart and a sweet spirit. She is determined — her goal is to make it to the Olympics and I feel like she will definitely do it if she keeps her drive. Hugs from Hannah was bound to happen. She’s always been such a giving kid; she would give anyone anything at any time. We are just super proud of her,” Taccalite said.
A sold-out field will compete for national titles at the 2015 USA Triathlon Youth & Junior National Championships in West Chester, Ohio, on Aug. 1-2. For more event coverage, visit usatriathlon.org/usatyjr15coverage.