During the course of the year, we’ve searched and posted incredible stories about people overcoming hearing loss to our Facebook page.
These inspiring stories remind us of what human determination and perseverance can achieve—even in the face of overwhelming challenges and barriers.
Of the numerous stories we’ve come across, here are our top picks for the year.
At the age of 3, Emma Rudkin acquired an ear infection that would cause her to lose a large portion of her hearing. At the time, doctors told her parents that she was unlikely to ever talk clearly or attend a “normal” school.
Following several years of speech therapy and with the help of hearing aids, Emma not only learned how to communicate clearly—she additionally learned how to sing and play three musical instruments. She would move 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 states that she wears her hearing aids “as a badge of honor” and is utilizing her crown to motivate other individuals with hearing loss. She even founded the #ShowYourAids social media promotion to urge others to display their hearing aids with pride, and to help end the stigma connected with hearing impairment.
Justin Osmond, son of Merrill Osmond, lead vocalist of The Osmonds, is 90 percent deaf. But that didn’t stop him from carrying out a 250-mile run—occasionally through rain and hail—to raise funds for hearing aids for deaf children.
In spite of being hard of hearing, Justin has additionally become an award-winning musician, motivational speaker, and author of the book titled “Hearing with my Heart.”
You can check out Justin’s website at www.justinosmond.com.
Playing a sport at the professional level is by itself an instance of defying the odds. Based on NCAA statistics, merely 1.7 percent of college football athletes and 0.08 percent of high school players attain the professional level.
Incorporate hearing loss into the mix, and you really have an uphill battle.
But Derrick Coleman not only plays for a professional 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 discovered at a young age.
With the support of his parents, coaches, healthcare professionals, and hearing aid technology, Derrick Coleman would excel at football on his way to ultimately participating in the Super Bowl as a fullback for the Seattle Seahawks.
Despite her hearing loss, and with the help of hearing aids in both ears, 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 also has made time to help other people contend with the obstacles she had to overcome 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 graduated with not one, but two, high school degrees.
In combination with her West Davidson High School diploma, she also achieved 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 developed a hearing disability a few months after she was born, which has created challenges for her throughout her life. But despite the hearing difficulty, she says, “There’s been challenges, but nothing I couldn’t handle.”
Concerning her new challenge? She plans 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 serious neurological infection that can create major complications, such as brain damage, hearing loss, and learning disabilities. In some cases, it can be fatal.
For Ryan, the infection produced 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 excelled as a Poquoson High School student, completing Advanced Placement Calculus and U.S. History along with other difficult 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, mother Sarah Ivermee recognizes first-hand the challenges in getting kids to wear their hearing aids.
And as Sarah met more people with children who had hearing aids, she found that a large 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 styles include Batman, Toy Story, Minions, Hello Kitty, butterflies, Star Wars, Spiderman, and more.
Now, Freddie not only enjoys wearing his hearing aids, but his brother would like 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 rewarding career. But by pursuing three trades that all demand healthy hearing, hearing loss could have been career-ending.
Instead of quitting, Win worked with a community hearing care professional to obtain a pair of hearing aids that would meet the heavy requirements of a mountain guide. The solution: an advanced pair of digital hearing aids with several key functions.
Win discovered that he could control his hearing aids with his phone or watch, take phone calls, listen to music, and cut down on wind noise, all while hearing the sounds he had been missing out on for years.
Concerning the stigma connected to a 49-year-old wearing hearing aids? Rather than 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.