All throughout the year, we’ve searched for and shared incredible stories about people conquering hearing loss to our Facebook page.
These motivational stories remind us of what human determination and persistence can achieve—even in the face of overpowering challenges and obstacles.
Of the many stories we’ve come across, here are our top selections for the year.
At the age of 3, Emma Rudkin acquired an ear infection that would cause her to lose a large amount of her hearing. At that time, doctors told her parents that she was unlikely to ever talk clearly or attend a “normal” school.
Following many years of speech therapy and with the assistance of hearing aids, Emma not only learned how to communicate clearly—she also learned how to sing and play three musical instruments. She would proceed to 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 inspire other people with hearing loss. She even developed the #ShowYourAids social media campaign to inspire others to showcase their hearing aids with pride, and to help eliminate 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 prevent him from accomplishing a 250-mile run—in some cases through rain and hail—to raise funds for hearing aids for deaf children.
In spite of 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.
Playing a sport at the professional level is itself an example of defying the odds. According to NCAA statistics, only 1.7 percent of college football athletes and 0.08 percent of high school athletes attain the professional level.
Combine 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 love for football, which he found at an early age.
With the structure and support of his parents, coaches, healthcare professionals, and with hearing aid technology, Derrick Coleman would stand out at football on his way to eventually participating 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 deal 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 modest portion of students who managed to graduate with not one, but two, high school diplomas.
In combination 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 developed 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.”
As for 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 developed bacterial meningitis, a serious neurological infection that can result in serious complications, such as brain damage, hearing loss, and learning disabilities. In some 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 required him to wear leg braces into his intermediate school years.
Despite the challenges, Ryan stood out 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, mom Sarah Ivermee understands from experience the challenges in getting kids to use their hearing aids.
And as Sarah met more people with children who had hearing aids, she found that many kids were ashamed to wear them and resented being different.
So this got her thinking, and, with her husband’s help, she formed her own company, named Lugs, that makes hearing aids fashionable for kids.
Present styles 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 lucky to have turned three of his passions—mountaineering, music, and movies—into a rewarding career. But by pursuing three professions that all demand healthy hearing, hearing loss could have been career-ending.
Rather than quitting, Win worked with a local hearing care professional to obtain a pair of hearing aids that would fulfill the intense demands of a mountain guide. The solution: an innovative pair of digital hearing aids with multiple key features.
Win discovered that he could manage his hearing aids with his phone or watch, accept phone calls, listen to music, and reduce wind noise, all while hearing the sounds he had been missing out on for several years.
As for the stigma associated 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.