Meet Hannah Santus, a member of Team Hope For The Warriors® – our team of service members and community members who participate in athletic events around the country to support our mission and spread HOPE! An aspiring naval pilot, Hannah is running in the NYC Marathon this November – her first marathon ever – and is representing us at the event. Here is her story:



HOPE: What year are you in college, and what is your major? Santus_1

I am a Junior at Virginia Tech, working toward a major in Sustainable Building Construction and a minor in Spanish.

HOPE: Where are you originally from? 

My hometown is Metuchen, New Jersey.

HOPE: What made you decide to join Navy ROTC? Do you plan on commissioning after? 

My interest in naval military service began when I was interested in applying to the US Naval Academy. In the end, I was not accepted, but I still felt the need to serve my country and I decided to join Navy ROTC. I am so glad I ended up at Virginia Tech because I love it here. It has been a great experience to learn from civilian leaders in clubs and organizations I am a part of, while also living in 24/7 military training.

HOPE: What do you hope your military MOS will be?

I hope to become a Naval Pilot upon commissioning.

HOPE: Why do you want to serve in the Navy?

I want to serve in the Navy because I feel that I should do my part in helping others and giving back to my country. I have been blessed with a good childhood, education, high physical fitness ability and a passion to lead and use my abilities to help other people. I was inspired by Travis Manion’s quote when I was in high school, “If not me, then who?” It is this quote that I think about when life gets tough and I question why I do what I do.

Santus_2HOPE: Do you come from a military family?

I do not come from a military family. My cousin served in the Marine Corps and did a tour in Afghanistan, and my grandfather served in the Navy in WWII but I never really knew much about their military experiences.

HOPE: How did you learn about Hope For The Warriors? 

I learned about Hope For The Warriors when I was looking on the New York Road Runners (NYRR) page trying to find a charity to dedicate my race to. I figured that if I was going to put the energy into committing to running and training for this long race, I might as well put the energy into a good cause as well. Hope For The Warriors stood out to me as a charity I wanted to represent because most of my friends and people that surround me have been affected by the military in some way. Most of my friends have parents or family serving or who have served. I am lucky enough to have opportunities to listen to veterans, some on active duty as well, and I have gained mentorship from them. While I do not come from a major military family at home, I feel as though I definitely have made a family [at Virginia Tech] amongst other cadets and officer mentors.

HOPE: Is running something you’ve always enjoyed or is this a new hobby? 

I have always enjoyed running. I ran indoor/outdoor track in High School where my relay team made All-County. I just recently joined the Club Track team here at Tech. I’ve been active and have played sports my whole life; my sister, two brothers, mom, and dad all play sports and run. I guess it’s in the family. Our town hosts a number of charity races which we all ran as kids. While running definitely gets mentally and physically tough sometimes, the rewarding and refreshed feeling after a run is what makes me continue to do it.

HOPE: Is this your first marathon? What other races have you done? Do you have a favorite? Santus_3

Yes, this is my first marathon! I’ve really only run local 5Ks and track events, the longest race I’ve done has to be the Toughest Hokie Race which is around 9 miles and includes an Obstacle Course and other events. If I had to pick my favorite race it would be the Toughest Hokie Race just because I didn’t know I could do that much mileage and push myself that hard. It was extremely rewarding.

HOPE: What are most excited for with running the NYC marathon? 

My dad has run the NYC marathon twice when he heard I was entering the race, he wanted to support me, so on an impulse he entered as well. No better way to run my first marathon than with my dad and for a great charity. He tells me there is no other marathon that offers the same excitement of NYC: a great time and the energy that people have to support the race is amazing.

HOPE: What is your training schedule like?

I’m in the middle of the club track season right now, so I won’t start longer training until mid-June. I plan on slowly ramping up my mileage as this the first time I’ve had to run so much. Throughout an 18-week plan, I hope to increase my mileage by keeping it under 10 during the week and getting to the teens on Saturdays. I’ve been doing research and have my dad to help me out with my plan.

This year, there will be 49 Team Hope For The Warriors members sharing HOPE during the TCS New York City Marathon. Each come from different backgrounds, work in different industries, and vary in age, but have one thing in common— the love and admiration for our nation’s warriors. Some run for themselves, some run to support their family and friends currently serving, and some run in memory of lost loved ones, like these Team Hope For The Warriors members running the TCS New York City Marathon in memory of their friend, Marine Corps Veteran Andy Yeo. Visit our 2019 Hope For The Warriors TCS New York City Marathon page to learn more about our runners and help them reach their collective goal of raising $175,000 for military families impacted by HOPE programs.