ESPN anchor Hannah Storm, seriously burned in a propane gas grill accident at her home three weeks ago, will be back on the air on New Year's Day.
Storm suffered second-degree burns on her chest and hands, and first-degree burns to her face and neck. She lost her eyebrows and eyelashes, and roughly half her hair.
The 50-year-old TV anchor will host ABC's telecast of the 2013 Rose Parade on Tuesday. Her left hand will be bandaged and she said viewers might notice a difference in her hair texture where extensions have been added.
"I'm a little nervous about things I used to take for granted,"' she said in a phone interview with the Associated Press this weekend from Pasadena, Calif. "Little things like putting on makeup and even turning pages on my script."
The Illinois-born award-winning sportscaster and producer was preparing dinner outside her home in Connecticut on the night of Dec. 11 when she noticed the flame on the grill had gone out. She turned off the gas and when she reignited it "there was an explosion and a wall of fire came at me."
"It was like you see in a movie, it happened in a split-second," she said. "A neighbor said he thought a tree had fallen through the roof, it was that loud. It blew the doors off the grill."
With her left hand, she tore off her burning shirt. She tried to use another part of her shirt to extinguish the flames that engulfed her head and chest, while yelling for help. Her 15-year-old daughter, Hannah, called 911 and a computer technician who was working in the house grabbed some ice as Storm tried to cool the burns.
Soon, police and rescue teams arrived at the house. Storm's husband, NBC sportscaster Dan Hicks, also had returned home with another of the couple's three daughters. As her mother was being treated, the younger Hannah calmly said something that, days later, her mom could laugh about.
"OK, Mommy, I'm going to do my homework now," she said.
Storm was taken by ambulance to the Trauma and Burn Center at Westchester Medical Center and was treated for 24 hours.
"I didn't see my face until the next day and you wonder how it's going to look" she said. "I was pretty shocked. But my overarching thought was I've covered events with military members who have been through a lot worse than me, and they've come through. I kept thinking, 'I can do this. I'm fortunate.'"
Other than going to Christmas Eve Mass, Storm hadn't been outside until her trip to California. ESPN reworked its anchor schedule while she was recovering, and NBC and the Golf Channel rearranged their staffing while Hicks attended to his wife.
Storm, the author of two inspirational books, created the Hannah Storm Foundation in 2008.It raises awareness and provides treatment for children suffering from debilitating and disfiguring vascular birthmarks.
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