National Edition

Imagine Dragons reaches out to terminal teen

Published: Thursday, Oct. 24 2013 8:45 a.m. MDT

This positive outlook is due in part to the Hansens' strong ties to their faith as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

"We've chosen to share her story and to remain positive, and she's going home," Jason said. "We believe in a Heavenly Father who needs her home. She needed to have her life here, and share her legacy here and then move on."

Kennedy's Hugs, a Facebook page started and operated by extended and immediate family, is one avenue the Hansens use to share their daughter's story of love and faith.

"Every day we're having these amazing experiences with her ... so we're just trying to absorb everything, write these things down, and share them with other people so that they can experience her life, so that we can reflect back when it becomes more difficult for us to be able to see the good in it," said Kennedy's mother, Heather. "It will give us that strength to make it through, to see the goodness in what's happening."

In a way, the Hansens see this final chapter of Kennedy's life as a celebration of the goodness that has filled their lives.

And while on the road of great sorrows and great acceptance, the Hansens are learning lessons from Kennedy, too.

"She gets to return to heaven, how lucky for her, while the rest of us stay here. It's not that she's lucky to go through the experiences; she's learning and she's growing so much spiritually. She's well beyond us," Heather said. And we're all learning from her how to be more thoughtful about other people, how to be concerned, how to love, how to express that."

While Kennedy is the only blood daughter of Jason and Heather, their family also includes an adopted daughter, 16-year-old Anna, and son, 5-year-old Beau. Jason said the siblings have always been close.

Earlier this summer, Kennedy and her family were given a trip to Hawaii organized by the Make-A-Wish foundation.

Jason said it was Kennedy's wish to see family members, who live in Oahu.

"Hawaii wasn't for us. That was for her cousins," Jason said. "We watched Kennedy play dolls with her cousins and go to the beach. She got on a paddle board. She surfed on her knees. There are a lot of miracles, little tender mercies she will never forget."

Since Kennedy's diagnosis, the family has connected with extended family members who have come to visit Kennedy in the last chapter of her life.

In fact, it was because of Brittany Hansen, Kennedy's aunt, that her dream of seeing Imagine Dragons came true.

The concert is part of the inauguration of Weber State University's new president, Charles Wight.

"This was one of Kennedy's dreams to go to a concert. With all the medical bills, they didn't think they could afford that luxury," said Bev Rudd, Weber State's event coordinator. "Once we heard the story, we were able to accommodate their needs."

Weber State, where both Jason and Heather attended, is providing the family with tickets in a wheelchair-accessible area.

According to a press release from Weber State, when Kennedy heard the news she started jumping up and down and singing all the Imagine Dragons' songs she had memorized.

"It's hard to understand Kennedy's speech, but singing allows her to express herself clearly," Brittany said in the press release.

A video of Kennedy singing "Radioactive" was sent to the band. Jason said the family got a call from the band asking if Kennedy could come on their bus the day of the concert.

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