With a wave of her bandaged left hand, and boosted by well wishes from Dr. Phil, Chris Evert and even a young woman she once babysat, Hannah Storm returned to a most comfortable setting — talking in front of a TV camera.
The ESPN anchor hosted the Rose Parade telecast Tuesday in her first on-air appearance since sustaining first- and second-degree burns to her face, hands, chest and neck in a propane gas grill accident Dec. 11.
I was just so happy to be there, so grateful, she said by phone from Pasadena, Calif. It took a lot out of me, but it went great.
Storm lost roughly half her hair in the accident outside her home in Connecticut. She wore extensions for the two-hour show on ABC. Storm's eyebrows and eyelashes also were burned off. When a makeup artist brushed on her first eyebrow, I wanted to kiss her, it looked so good, she said.
This was the fifth time Storm served as TV host for the Rose Parade. She said working alongside her former SportsCenter co-anchor, Good Morning America host Josh Elliott, eased her way.
She was warmed by having her three daughters with her in California — 15-year-old Hannah, 14-year-old Ellery and 11-year-old Riley. There are, incidentally, four generations of Hannahs in the family, with Storm's mother and grandmother also sharing that first name.
Storm cautioned that her return to the air just three weeks after being injured was far from normal. The fiery explosion left flame marks on her neck, and doctors have told her to keep the most seriously burned areas out of direct sunlight for six months. Dressing and showering are still difficult, too.
This hair wasn't real, these eyebrows weren't real, she said. It's important to remember burns take a long time to heal.
During the telecast, she thanked everyone from the Trauma and Burn Center at Westchester Medical Center who treated her. Her husband, NBC sportscaster Dan Hicks, rearranged his schedule to stay home during her recovery.