Champion - Dawn Hartman

Marketing Professional • Activist

Nominated by: HearStrong Champion Sara Lundquist

From: Clarion, PA

Sudden Hearing Loss

“I remember waking up one day as a child to a really loud ringing in my left ear and diminished hearing,” said Dawn. “I believe I experienced sudden hearing loss in that ear. I must’ve been around five years old because I always remember having a hearing loss in school. I couldn’t hear people talking (on) that side. I had to sit near the front of the classroom to hear the teacher.”

Dawn soon discovered her hearing loss extended to her right ear as well.

“Around 2006, I started experiencing problems with the hearing in my right ear. My doctors kept treating me for ear infections, but then pinpointed that the problem was in my inner ear. When I started having trouble with my right (ear), my quality of life was greatly affected. I really started struggling at work. I couldn’t hear in large meetings or noisy events. I was lost at the dinner table with my family. I started to feel very isolated.”

Rediscovering Happiness

Ready to take control of her life, Dawn first began using hearing devices in 2009.

“It was a person who prompted me to take action—my Ear, Nose and Throat specialist, Dr. Barry Hirsch at UPMC Presbyterian. I was struggling so hard to get by as my hearing fluctuated, and he just told me, ‘you would really benefit from a hearing aid.’ He explained how it would help me with my anxiety and fear, and it would help improve my quality of life.”

By 2012, Dawn was proudly wearing two hearing devices and enjoying the personal, and professional, side effects of hearing better.

Strengthening Relationships

“Hearing better helps me be a more active participant in relationships then I would be able to be without my hearing aids. I can participate in conversations in small group settings and one-on-one pretty well, rather than just pretending I’m hearing what’s going on. But a hearing aid isn’t a miracle cure. My hearing isn’t as good as someone who doesn’t need hearing aids. I have to advocate for myself and explain to others what I need in order for us to have the best communication. Being more open about my hearing loss in the last year and my needs has helped improve my communication with others and my relationships.”

Why Dawn is a HearStrong Champion

With the support of her hearing devices and her bottomless self-confidence, Dawn is a well-rounded young woman who is tremendously involved in her community.

A few of Dawn’s accomplishments include:

  • Currently works as director of marketing and communications for WRC Senior Services
  • Member of the Collaborative for Communication Access via Captioning
  • Advocated for Carmike Cinemas in Clarion to update poor captioning devices in 2015
  • Administrator and actress for Clarion Community Theater
  • Pianist
  • Host of a local radio show
  • Member of the Allegheny Canoe Club
  • Member of the Say What Club


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