During the course of the year, we’ve sought after and posted phenomenal stories about people overcoming hearing loss to our Facebook page.
These motivational stories remind us of what human purpose and perseverance can accomplish—even in the face of intense challenges and obstacles.
Of the countless stories we’ve come across, here are our top selections for the year.
At the age of 3, Emma Rudkin developed an ear infection that would cause her to lose a large portion of her hearing. During that time, doctors explained to her parents that she was not likely to ever speak clearly or enroll in a “normal” school.
Following years of speech therapy and with the help of hearing aids, Emma not only mastered how to speak clearly—she additionally learned how to sing and play three instruments. She would go on to become the first hearing impaired woman to win the Miss San Antonio crown as a sophomore at the University of Texas at San Antonio.
Emma reveals that she dons her hearing aids “as a badge of honor” and is utilizing her crown to motivate other individuals with hearing loss. She even launched the #ShowYourAids social media promotion to inspire others to flaunt their hearing aids with pride, and to help eliminate the stigma associated with hearing impairment.
Justin Osmond, son of Merrill Osmond, lead vocalist of The Osmonds, is 90 percent deaf. But that didn’t avert him from finishing a 250-mile run—in some cases through rain and hail—to raise funds for hearing aids for deaf children.
Despite being hard of hearing, Justin has in addition become an award-winning musician, motivational speaker, and author of the book called “Hearing with my Heart.”
You can check out Justin’s website at www.justinosmond.com.
Becoming a professional athlete is by itself an instance of defying the odds. According to NCAA statistics, merely 1.7 percent of college football athletes and 0.08 percent of high school athletes attain the pro level.
Combine hearing loss into the mix, and you really have an uphill battle.
But Derrick Coleman not only plays for a pro football team—he’s also the first hard-of-hearing NFL offensive player and the third hard-of-hearing player drafted in league history. Derrick didn’t let hearing loss get in the way of his enthusiasm for football, which he observed at an early age.
With the structure and support of his parents, coaches, healthcare professionals, and hearing aid technology, Derrick Coleman would excel at football on his way to ultimately playing in the Super Bowl as a fullback for the Seattle Seahawks.
In spite of her hearing loss, and with the assistance of binaural hearing aids, Hannah Neild, a high school senior, is a three-sport athlete, team captain, member of the National Honor Society, and coach/mentor for children with moderate disabilities.
On top of all of her responsibilities, she in addition has found the time to help other people contend with the struggles she had to conquer herself. “I’m working towards moderately disability kids, to help them get through the things they need to get through, just like I had to do,” Hannah said.
West Davidson High School graduate Carley Parker is in the minimal percentage of students who managed to graduate with not one, but two, high school degrees.
Along with her West Davidson High School diploma, she also obtained a diploma from the N.C. School of Science and Mathematics.
“I feel like I got a really good education from both, ” Carley, 18, said. “It’s definitely rewarding. Some people laughed and told me it was going to be challenging. This shows just because I had a lot of challenges in my life, it didn’t stop me. You can do whatever you put your mind to.”
Carley acquired a hearing disability a few months after she was born, which has introduced challenges for her throughout her life. But in spite of the hearing difficulty, she says, “There’s been challenges, but nothing I couldn’t handle.”
Concerning her new challenge? She has her sight set on studying pre-medicine at Wake Forest University.
“I proved them wrong,” said Ryan Flood. “Through hard work, I proved them wrong.”
At eight months old, Ryan acquired bacterial meningitis, a severe neurological infection that can bring about serious complications, such as brain damage, hearing loss, and learning disabilities. In certain cases, it can be fatal.
For Ryan, the infection left him with hearing loss in both ears, which necessitated hearing aids, and with mild cerebral palsy, which forced him to wear leg braces into his intermediate school years.
Even with the challenges, Ryan stood out as a Poquoson High School student, completing Advanced Placement Calculus and U.S. History along with other challenging courses.
Ryan will be studying kinesiology at James Madison University as part of his plan to become a physical therapist.
“I remember the therapists helping me, and I knew that was something that I wanted to do,” Ryan said. “I want to graduate and open a physical therapy practice with my brother.”
With a four-year-old named Freddie, who is profoundly deaf in one ear and moderately deaf in the other, mom Sarah Ivermee understands from experience the difficulties in trying to get kids to use their hearing aids.
And as Sarah met more people with children who had hearing aids, she realized that a great number of kids were ashamed to wear them and resented being different.
So this got her thinking, and, with her husband’s assistance, she formed her own company, named Lugs, that renders hearing aids fashionable for kids.
Recent designs include Batman, Toy Story, Minions, Hello Kitty, butterflies, Star Wars, Spiderman, and more.
Now, Freddie not only loves wearing his hearing aids, but his brother wants a pair too—and he’s not even hard of hearing!
“When I was teaching climbing school, I sometimes would have to ask a client to repeat a question,” Win Whittaker said. “It started to become very noticeable.”
Win is fortunate to have turned three of his passions—mountaineering, music, and movies—into a successful career. But by following three vocations that all require healthy hearing, hearing loss could have been career-ending.
Instead of throwing in the towel, Win worked with a community hearing care professional to find a pair of hearing aids that would fulfill the heavy requirements of a mountain guide. The solution: a sophisticated pair of digital hearing aids with multiple key functions.
Win figured out that he could manipulate his hearing aids with his phone or watch, accept phone calls, listen to music, and minimize wind noise, all while hearing the sounds he had been missing out on for years.
Concerning the stigma affiliated with a 49-year-old wearing hearing aids? Instead of deciding to be discreet, Win’s hearing aids are “Monza Red,” the flashiest of the 14 available colors.
“I’m flaunting them,” he said with a laugh.