This article originally appeared in the Gordie Center's 2017 print publication.
Hannah Christian is a University of Virginia (UVA) graduate working as a lawyer in Denver, Colorado. She attended Deerfield Academy at the same time as Gordie, although she never knew him personally.
"I knew of him. He was one of those incoming students that everyone talks about for all the right reasons. He was charismatic, enthusiastic, and nice to everyone. He was the new student everyone wanted to be friends with, and not because he was from the right place or fit into the right crowd."
When Hannah learned of Gordie's death in 2004, she was shocked and saddened. "To lose such an impressive person at such a young age from something so preventable is heartbreaking. And it could happen to anyone. Gordie's story brings that home."
In the onslaught of emails Hannah received during UVA's first GivingToHoosDay campaign in 2016, an email from the Gordie Center caught her attention.
"I actually read that email, and the decision to donate was immediate. Gordie and I had overlapped at Deerfield, then I went off to UVA and he to Colorado...and here I was in Colorado getting this email about the Gordie Center from UVA. Our paths seemed connected, and I wanted to continue to support his."
Hannah has followed the Gordie Center's efforts ever since, and feels proud that her alma mater houses the Center bearing Gordie's name. She felt even more connected to the mission after receiving a thank you phone call from a Gordie Center staff member, and feels that the Gordie Center is in good hands.
"I hope that through its outreach and education, the Gordie Center will be able to have a positive impact on the drinking and substance abuse culture on college campuses and contribute to a decrease in the tragic outcomes of binge drinking. And I feel connected -- connected to Deerfield, to UVA, and to an important cause that I think is doing great work."
Hannah encourages others to donate to the Gordie Center because of her strong belief that Gordie Center donations translate into education and prevention work on a national level that can save lives. Continuing to share Gordie's story with today's students is important to Hannah.
"It feels great to donate to the Gordie Center -- donations and support help the Gordie Center continue to expand its outreach, its programs, and its footprint and reach more college students across the country. The more support the Gordie Center receives, the more people it can reach. I think the Gordie Center has the capacity to make lasting change, and I look forward to watching its progress."