GLENVIEW — A businesswoman, Hannah Thompson is feisty, humorous, articulate and she has cerebral palsy.
Confined to a wheelchair the social media coordinator for River North Business Association in Chicago, has recently devoted much time to fundraising for the Over the Rainbow Association in Evanston, a provider of housing solutions for people with disabilities.
So far, her website has netted $675 for the association’s Rainbow Challenge Tour, a bicycling fundraiser through Evanston and the North Shore.
The Sept. 21 event is part of the Evanston Bicycle Club’s North Shore Century.
A 2008 graduate of Glenbrook South High School in Glenview, Thompson rents a condominium in Northlake and has a roommate.
She also is a motivational speaker and has addressed audiences at the Alexian Brothers Medical Center, Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, Illinois Chapter, American Academy of Pediatrics and several high schools.
“I talk about everything from how to treat people with disabilities with general acceptance to what my daily life is like,” she wrote on a computer screen attached to the electronic wheelchair.
“You need a speaker and I’m there,” she said, laughing.
She chose to get involved with the 7th annual Rainbow Challenge Tour because it promoted independent living for the disabled.
“Every one deserves independence in their living situation,” said Thompson, whose wheelchair bears a pin button bearing the advice, “Well behaved women rarely make history.”
More than 200 riders are expected to participate in the Rainbow adaptive bikes Challenge Tour and about 65 on adaptive bikes for the disabled.
Genevieve Thompson said her sister’s fundraising efforts was a lesson to others in persistence over hard difficulties.
“She has taught me never give up and be patient. Hannah has also shown me that every kind thing you do comes back full center,” said Genevieve, a sophomore at Glenbrook South where she will be a peer mentor this year.
“I have a lot of experience in being patient, so I think I’ll do well as a mentor. I hope I can use my sign language, too,” she said.
Tara Moran, vice president of development for Over the Rainbow Association, asked Thompson to join the association’s junior board of directors.
“She’s unique for her age — a young age. She’s right out of college and is comfortable with success. There’s never been one as young as Hannah on the junior board,” Moran said.
Thompson graduated in 2012 with bachelor’s degree in communications from Elmhurst College.
The Rainbow Challenge Tour raised $150,000 in 2013.
Moran’s daughter, Grace, will participate in the ride for a fourth time.
“It’s important for young people in a community like Glenview that people here are blessed and it’s important to include everybody,” said Grace, a junior at Glenbrook South.
“It’s so cool to know people like Hannah and I think I’m incredibly lucky.”
Thompson believed acceptance of people with disabilities was “moving in the right direction.”
“It takes a lot of talking to people and education,” she added.