Our third Remarkable Woman nominee has many titles to her name, from Sergeant 1st Class, to coach, to mother, all of which inspires her to help younger generations.
“I was on my way up to SDSU my sophomore year of college and that’s where I was when I heard the planes hit the building,” Remarkable Woman nominee Rachel Hangman said.
Just weeks after 9/11 Rachael Hangman went with her younger brother to meet with an Army recruiter and decided to enlist.
“My husband, my cousin, my brother, my baby sisters, my daughter, it is truly a family tradition,” Hangman said.
It’s a tradition of service Rachel is now working to start in many families around the region.
“I get to recruit where I went to high school,” Hangman said.
She has spent 17 years as a full time recruiter in the Army National Guard, helping more than 250 KELOLAND students find their passion in the guard.
“I can’t put people in the military and tell them if its going to be all sunshine and roses, if I don’t do it myself,” Hangman said.
She’s gearing up for her husband’s second deployment, this time as a mother of four.
“My husband deployed in 2010, 2011 to Afghanistan, we knew when he came home that we wanted to try for another child. We tried for five years,” Hangman said.
After several miscarriages, IVF and meeting with fertility specialists, Rachael and her husband were told it was unlikely they’d be able to have any other biological children.
“It’s horrible. It’s a nightmare, and unfortunately a lot of people in society, once you start having those problems, you realize how common it is,” Hangman said.
But then their miracle happened.
“One in a million baby; this is amazing,” Hangman said.
They found out they were pregnant with Lincoln. Rachael kept on recruiting and coaching girls basketball in Tea all the way up to his arrival.
“She was in the beginning stages of labor with Lincoln and she got on a school bus to go to a tournaments to coach her basketball team,” her mom and nominator Donna Rumbaugh said.
Rumbaugh says Lincoln was born just a few hours after her team won the game.
“When he came out, the doctor said he was having a hard time holding his oxygen,” Hangman said. “They’re like, ‘His abdomen looks a little large. We’re just going to run some scans and see how things are going.'”
Lincoln was diagnosed with a rare kidney condition called ARPKD, which led him to fight for his life when he was just a few months old.
“In between our third and fourth appointment that day, Lincoln aspirated on the hallway of the Castle and turned blue and stopped breathing,” Hangman said.
They spent the next two months in the Pediatric ICU.
“Lincoln coded on us a few time while we were there, but they brought him back, because that’s what they do. They’re amazing up there; we’re so blessed to have that facility,” Hangman said.
It’s an experience that has sparked a forever bond between Hangman and the Sanford Children’s Hospital.
“I sat at the Castle many days and thought about what can I do, how can I make these people feel better?” Hangman said.
She is now organizing ‘Lunch with Lincoln’ every month, providing families at the Castle with a meal from T.C. Referees right to their room.
“I didn’t want to leave my kid. I didn’t want to leave his side, so I can imagine other people don’t want to leave their child either,” Hangman said.
Lincoln’s medical concerns are far from over. He will need a kidney and liver transplant in his lifetime, but Rachael says she will continue to work to serve others through his journey.
“He’s impacted so many people and God brought him here to do this for us,” Hangman said.
A perseverance and determination that sets her apart as a Remarkable Woman.
“Despite all of the bad things that life throws her way, she seems to figure out a way to turn them around an make them positive and use them to help other people,” Rumbaugh said.
We will introduce you to our final Remarkable Woman nominee coming up next Tuesday, March 3, on KELOLAND News at 5. Then later that night you can watch our Remarkable Woman special on KELO-TV at 6:30 p.m.
We will announce the local winner on March 6.