Madonna Hanna: Honoring the Past, Sprinting Into the Future


Madonna Hanna has been an executive in the fashion industry, a two-time Washington state high school teacher-of-the-year, an actor, children’s book author, a playwright, motivational speaker, and an auctioneer. She stages runway shows for students with disabilities which earned her a Point of Light Award from President George H.W. Bush. And she’s the recipient of the prestigious Milken Education Award.  

She’s a woman of many talents, but now in her 70s she identifies, mostly, as a sprinter. Madonna never even thought about running until she was in her 50s and had no idea if she had any talent. Encouraged by her husband who offered to coach her, she decided to give it a try. She’s improved every year and the 2023 National Senior Games in Pittsburgh, she took 5th in the 100-meters and the gold in the 4 x 100 relay.

“This is absolutely unbelievable,” Hanna told Growing Bolder after winning the gold medal. “It is so incredible. It’s just a dream come true. When you live agelessly, anything’s possible.

“I’m trying not to cry. I’m just so overwhelmed. This is my first national gold medal. This is my fourth time being here, and just to win…I put in all that hard work, eight months, five days a week.”

The road to that first gold medal required resilience and perseverance. Madonna didn’t start running until 2011 when, at 57, her late husband Steven began coaching her and entered her into the Washington Senior Games. After a battle with cancer, Steven passed away, but not before urging Madonna to continue on her fitness journey.

Madonna and her late husband, Steven

She kept running and found a new coach, an Olympian-hopeful named Marcus Chambers, who has shown her the strength of self-belief in the pursuit of her goals and taken her physical capabilities to a new level. Chambers was right there alongside Hanna in Pittsburgh.

“Honestly, it means the world to me [to see her win the gold medal],” Chambers said. “I wanted to help her reach her goals. We have a lot more records to break in the future and a lot more gold medals to bring home. But for now, seeing her and her reaction of winning this gold, means the world to me.”

Marcus Chambers, alongside Madonna after winning her gold medal

Driven by passion, purpose, and a commitment she made to her late husband, Madonna Hanna continues to chase her dreams and says you can, too.

“Just know that it’s never too late. It’s absolutely never too late to get up and do something, to be positive, and be able to give to other people,” Hanna said. “Absolutely anything is possible. Give yourself a chance and just go for it.” 

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