THS homecoming queen competing for national honor

TORONTO -Robin Leasure said she’s hopeful her daughter, Hannah, the city high school’s 2013-14 homecoming queen, will win the title of America’s Homecoming Queen, but more than that she’s eager to have her daughter home and well.

Hannah, who also is the daughter of Dave Leasure, was diagnosed with a rare disorder known as anti-NMDA encephalitis in December. The disease affects motor and cognitive functions, and Hannah has been in Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh since being diagnosed with the disease.

“Her disease is genetic-based,” said Robin, adding Hannah’s been hospitalized since Christmas Eve. “She gets confused, repeats her words and has flu-like symptoms. They do expect her to have a full recovery. She’s walking now.”

At first Hannah was immobilized, and “all she could do was stare straight ahead,” said Robin, adding the family is grateful for fundraisers by locals to help pay for medical bills. “She was as stiff as a board, and she couldn’t talk, walk or eat.”

Robin said she recently received a letter from America’s Homecoming Queen, a web-based organization set up to let people pick their favorite homecoming queen, informing the family Hannah was a finalist in the Ohio portion of the contest.

“This (contest) is for the entire U.S.,” said Robin. “There are hundreds of applicants. She will be competing against 36 other girls (from Ohio) April 13 in Dayton. It costs $1 per vote. In this contest, America votes for their favorite homecoming queen.”

Those wishing to participate can go to www.americashomecomingqueen.com and cast their vote, said Robin. The state finalists each receive a tiara, school banner and other gifts, said Robin.

“(The letter) is sent to all Ohio’s homecoming queens,” she said. “They are looking for (queens) who have been active in their community, and Hannah has been very active. If she wins, she would represent Ohio in the nationals in Nashville during the summer.”

In the meantime, her daughter is getting better, and Robin expects her daughter to come home in early April.

“She will be graduating with the class on June 6,” continued Robin. “She has all her credits and passed the Ohio Graduation Test last year. That’s going to be awesome to see her walk across that stage. She’s excited to come home. She can’t wait.”

Earlier in the year, Hannah also was set to play the lead in the school’s production of “Beauty and the Beast,” said her mother.

“If she’s able to, they are going to let her sing a song on the last day of the play,” she added.