Interview with Alex Hanna of Challenge the Storm


#1

Alex Hanna wanted to use his love of poetry to help others struggling with depression or anxiety.
He started with writing, building Challenge the Storm, a communal writing site:

https://challengethestorm.org/

I love this line from his bio: “Something as small as putting a smile on someone else’s face may have a bigger impact than you think.”

Challenge the Storm is also a seller on the Beautiful Voyager Marketplace. I wanted to learn more about Alex’s story, so I asked if I could interview him here and learn more…

Question #1: Hey Alex, I’m so happy you found Beautiful Voyager and you’re on the marketplace. I’d love to learn more about Challenge the Storm. My first question is, when did you first launch your site?


#2

We first launched our site, Challenge the Storm, in the Summer of 2015, but we really didn’t have a firm direction on where we wanted to go. We were raising money for various causes–suicide prevention, breast cancer, etc. We knew we wanted to help people but we didn’t know how we wanted to do it.

In the Winter of 2015/2016, we revamped our site and our direction to focus on mental health. It’s a topic that is too often ignored. So we set out to share stories of those affected by mental illness: personal stories to show that nobody is alone in their fight. We sell wristbands and key chains to help support programming costs and give back to charity.

And when one of our followers introduced me to Beautiful Voyager, I knew I had to be a part of it!!


#3

Ah, it’s interesting how long it takes a new project to find its footing, isn’t it? I had embarrassingly bad names for the Beautiful Voyager when I first started (including “The GAD Owner’s Manual” = SO BAD).

Question #2: When you say “we,” who exactly is that? How many of you were working on the site in the early days?


#4

I got in the habit of saying “we” a long time ago. It’s really just me who works on the site. But I couldn’t have gotten to where “we” are without the support of my wife. She has helped along the way as a sounding board and a source of inspiration.

It also goes without saying that Challenge the Storm’s writers make it all possible. At first, it was just me, then people started trickling in, wanting to write about their stories. It is amazing how liberating it is to write about something which has the potential to help countless others. In total, we have a dozen writers and are acquiring more as we speak!


#5

I know what you mean @ahanna. My husband is the hidden element that ties
together Beautiful Voyager in many ways too.

Question 3: How do people usually hear about Challenge the Storm? Is there
any commonality to the background of your writers?


#6

People usually hear about us through social media or word of mouth. Typically, when we have new writers, they are excited to share their stories and want to do so with their communities, which then helps expand our community.

Our mission is to help one person each day. And through that, we stay grounded in knowing that every life matters, that every person has a story to share, and that everyone deserves the happiness that life has to offer.


#7

It’s so cool that you’re helping new writers find their voices! I think that is a very powerful way to change lives, one at a time.

Next question: what is your dream for your community and how do you envision your keychains and bracelets fitting in to that dream?


#8

That’s a good question. My vision is for the community to continue to expand and be a haven for people to safely share their stories, in addition to finding products to help them through their tough times. We all have them and we can all get through them.

The key chains and wristbands/bracelets are meant to serve as a constant visual reminder that there is light on the other side of the darkness. Having something as simple as a wristband on their wrist or a key chain on their keys, which is always visible, serves as that reminder.

I plan to expand our product lineup as we move forward and as the community grows, as well :slight_smile:


#9

OK, final question for you @ahanna : Tell me more about the light on the other side of the darkness. Why does Challenge the Storm represent that light for you, and in what way do you hope it will for other people?


#10

Everybody is faced with storms in their lives. The storms represent tough times. We can either run away from the storm or we can challenge it head-on. We know that storms don’t last forever. So by facing our demons, by challenging our storms, we are accepting that times may be hard, but we are standing firm in the fact that we are strong enough to see the tough times through. And when the storm passes, which it always does, that’s where the light shines brightest.

See, for me, knowing that I am strong enough to beat my demons is more important than the bumps and bruises I may earn along the way. Every time I am faced with a challenge and I stand firm, I am proving to myself that I am strong enough to conquer my fears, and get to the light.


#11

Thank you for doing this interview with me Alex. And thank you for being a part of the Beautiful Voyager. Keep up the good work!


#12

Thanks! It’s great to be a part of such an awesome community.