Illinois Reporter

Stories from intrepid reporters attending the Illinois Press Foundation Journalism Workshop at Eastern Illinois University

The Hanson Family shows what it means to be a H.E.R.O.

By Valeria Martinez

On Tues., June 16, Forsyth Public Library hosted the Hanson Family, a troupe of unicyclists and jugglers with a mission to provide fun and education for children.

“They performed a showcase in January for the library conference,” Librarian Sandy Haies said. “We fell in love with the family aspect of the show.”

The Hanson family based their show on the main theme: Help, Endure, Read, and Observe (H.E.R.O.). Illinois was one of the only states to not have been introduced to the H.E.R.O. theme until recently.

“When we help, we show love to each other,” Christa F. said. “When we endure, we make progress. We read to find answers and when we observe, we are looking and seeing things around us.”

Mark Hanson, the father, started off the show by juggling. He incorporated the meaning of help by explaining how he learned to juggle. Having set a  Guinness World Record of 520 catches per minute, Hanson had no trouble juggling up to five balls at a time. Later on, Mark introduced a segment of how animals would look like if they juggled. He acted as: lions, penguins, gorillas, orangutans, giraffes, and seals. Other juggling tricks consisted of juggling with his left hand, juggling balls at high distances, juggling in the form of square, and introducing a green ball named Froggy who would do leapfrog and figure eights.

“We want you to have fun and it’s okay to be loud- the louder the better,” Mark Hanson said.

Afterwards, daughter Christa B., 21, introduced the theme of endurance by telling her story of how she learned to ride a unicycle and eventually win the North American Unicycle Championship at age eight. After telling her story, Christa performed some tricks such as riding on her stomach, riding sideways, riding with her feet on the tire, hopping, and even jump roping while on her unicycle.

“Endurance means to be strong for a long time; it involves the muscles and the mind,” Christa B. said.

The youngest brother Caleb, 12, and mom Christa F. introduced the next segment: reading. They told the story of two remarkable children who helped make a difference in the world by raising money to donate to charities.

“When you work at something, you can accomplish anything,” spectator Sue Long said.

The two brothers Mike, 17, and Luke, 15, presented the last segment of H.E.R.O: observe. The duo rode on giraffe unicycles measuring up to five feet tall. While they riding, they juggled together and with other family members.

The segment neared its end as the Hanson Family got together and juggled together at the same time. Christa B. and her father Mark, officially ended the show with their most popular trick called the “Danger Trick.” They called up boy named Gabriel and had him stand in the middle of the two jugglers. After Gabriel put on his helmet, the Hanson members juggled over the boy.

“We talked about heroes, but another thing a hero needs is bravery,” Mark said.

As a token of appreciation, Christa F. presented Forsyth Public Library with large, three-foot snowflake that represented H.E.R.O. In the past, Christa F. made the world’s largest snowflake spanning 15-feet across.

Later after the show, the Hanson family set up different stations for the kids to play. The stations included balancing large paper cones, juggling scarves, and plate spinning.

“We really like [doing] this,” Hanson member Christa B. said. “We’re gearing towards educations and hope to make this a full time job.”

The Hanson Family performed at 13 libraries last year, plan to perform at 45 libraries this summer, and 70 libraries next summer. They also plan on branching out during the fall and winter. The Hanson Family will perform this Friday, June 18, at Lincoln Library, Vespasian Warner Library, and Rochester Public Library. For more information on the Hanson family visit their website at

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This entry was posted on June 19, 2015 by in Uncategorized.
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