Kennedy Hansen

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The story of Kennedy Hansen’s life touched thousands of people around the world and was eventually made into a feature film, Love, Kennedy. Her story is filled with miracles beyond her earthly life. One such story was shared by her friend Lexi Velasquez.

"I came home crying, and I was crying forever. I felt pressure on my bed like someone was sitting next to me, and I felt my hand being grabbed. I was scared at first; I was really scared, [but] without real words coming out, I heard [Kennedy's voice] in my head that missionaries were coming, that we needed to listen to them, and that so many blessings would come. . . . I felt the pressure go off the bed and I felt my hand being released. I sat up in my bed. [Kennedy] wasn't facing me, but she was facing the other way and was just crying. She [said], 'Be strong, Alexis. You just have to be strong.' Then I closed my eyes and she was gone." The next day, missionaries did arrive at Lexi's door, changing her life as well as the lives of her entire family.[1]

Kennedy was born on November 25, 1997, to Jason and Heather Hansen in Ogden, Utah, where she lived for 6 months. She lived in Riverdale, Utah, for 6 years and West Haven, Utah, for 10 years. 

She hoped to become a cheerleader—until she started experiencing inexplicable episodes and falls that warned her family that something was wrong. At the age of 15, Kennedy was diagnosed with juvenile Batten disease and she began to lose cognitive abilities, motor skills, and eventually her eyesight. She was a cheerleader for her last year of her life.

At her request, her parents created a Facebook page, "Kennedy’s Hugs," to share her story. According to her father, she wanted everyone “to feel important and loved.” She also wanted people to know what the disease looked like day-to-day and to show that despite her rapid decline, “she still loved life and trusted in God.”[2] Her father had to eventually take over the posts. His daily messages on the Facebook page evolved into small essays, “sharing memories of Kennedy's childhood or difficult accounts of what it's like for a parent to care for a terminally ill child.”[3]

Kennedy died on May 30, 2014, and her funeral was held at the Dee Events Center at Weber State University. Kennedy’s legacy is her love and the hugs she gave everyone and the faith she had in her Heavenly Father. She was a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.