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Nothing can stop Hannah Setzer from helping others: 'I never felt the need to hide'

Posted at 9:45 AM, Sep 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-16 18:39:51-04

POWHATAN COUNTY, Va. -- Paradise Found in Powhatan are just steps from Hannah and Brandon Setzer’s back door. The couple is settling into rural life.

"It's nice. Every morning the animals are happy when I come and give them food,” Brandon Setzer said.

“I love it. It is so fun,” Hannah Setzer added.

Fresh eggs and milk are the norm on their two and a half acres of Heaven.

The Setzers aren’t just blossoming farmers, they are business owners too.

Founded last year Hannah’s Handcrafted produces syrups, soaps, and sprays using elderberries.

Sales are sweet.

It’s quite the success story considering Hannah’s uphill climb.

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“I was not expected to be born alive,” she said.

The 31-year-old was born with Cystic Hygroma of the head and neck. Her condition has required 60 surgeries. Millions of cysts left Hannah permanently disfigured.

“I never felt the need to hide who I am and hide how I look,” Hannah said. "This is the one life I have and I want to live life to the fullest."

She breathes and eats through tubes.

“I was not expected to make a year and then five years,” Hannah said. “Then I think they stopped counting after that because I have plans.”

Growing up, Hannah was the target of insults and stares. She still receives hateful messages on social media.

“It happens every day. It happened yesterday,” she said.

Hannah isn’t fazed.

“Like I said, other people’s opinions about how I look don’t matter to me,” Hannah said.

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The college graduate serves as an advocate for the Disability Law Center of Virginia where she takes a stand for others who might not be as strong.

Hannah and Brandon met and fell in love in 2016. A year later they married.

“We go really well together. I was not expecting to find someone I was going to click with as well as I have,” Brandon said.

The Setzer family is expanding. They’ve adopted one son and are in the process of adopting three other boys in the foster care system.

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Hannah and Brandon are extending themselves even further. The Setzers are raising money to purchase land and build an accessible playground for children with disabilities.

“Everyone is so excited to bring it to Powhatan because there isn’t anything like that out here,” Hannah said.

The couple also wants to introduce a community garden. Any food not used by neighbors will be donated to area food pantries.

“If I help someone for five minutes out of my day. That could be a positive impact that influences them down the road so we want to be as nice to as many people and help as many people as I can,” Brandon said.

Hannah isn’t looking for sympathy.

“I don’t want to just talk about my dreams, I want to make them happen,” Hannah said. “If you tell me I can’t do something I’m probably going to do the opposite.”

The entrepreneur is on the move.

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“She definitely has a strong driving force behind her. When she puts her mind to it she is going to accomplish is no ifs, ands, or buts about it,” Brandon said.

Hannah Setzer measures success not in the number of dollars made but by the people she assists.

“I just feel so grateful and blessed to be alive and to be thriving,” Hannah said. “There is no way I would not want to help make others' lives as great and fun as mine. Yup!”

Greg McQuade features local heroes in a weekly “Heroes Among Us” segment. Watch Greg’s reports Thursdays on CBS News at 6 or here on WTVR.com. If you would like to nominate someone to be featured on “Heroes Among Us,” click here to email heroes@wtvr.com.

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