Champion - Elliott Gross

Musician • Advocate

From: Philadelphia, PA

Nominated by: The Clarke School of Philadelphia

Experiencing Hearing Loss

"We wish people could have seen Elliot's face when he received his first pair of hearing aids," says his mom. "He made the biggest smile and got so happy!"

After his premature birth, Elliott was tracked for many health issues including hearing loss; however, he was not officially diagnosed until he was two years old. He was then fit with his first pair of hearing aids, and hasn't look back since!

Although he can't recall a time before he started using hearing aids, Elliott knows they have made a positive impact on his life.

"I go to a regular school and learn with people who do not have a hearing loss," says Elliott. "I can understand as much as they do because I have my hearing aids. There are no boundaries."

A Love of Music

Elliott developed a love of music at a young age, and he is very thankful his hearing aids allow him to pursue his interest. As a singer and guitarist, hearing is a very important ability to have.

"Because of my hearing aids, I can hear when I play my guitar and when I sing," says Elliott. "I am VERY glad I can do this, and I don't know what I would do if I couldn't. I express myself through the music I play and the songs I write. Being able to share music with people is one of my greatest passions, and being able to hear has enabled me to do it."

Music has also given Elliott an important role model who proves that no challenge is too great when you have passion and determination.

"I have always looked up to Stevie Wonder after I learned about his problems and who he is," says Elliott. "Even though he has a very bad eye condition and he can't see, he still does what he loves to do and doesn't let his problems get in the way of that. I was lucky enough to see him in concert when I was really young and that made a big impression on me."

Spreading Awareness

Educating others and having open communication is essential to reducing the harmful stigmas that sometimes surround hearing loss. Even as a middle schooler, Elliott is an important advocate and uses his voice to inspire change. He even gave a presentation about hearing loss to his seventh grade class, and through this he was able to share his perspective and experiences.

"It made them more aware of my condition but didn't cause anyone to treat me differently," he says.

Elliott's musical interests also allow him to work for the Clarke School of Hearing and Speech, a school he attended when he was younger. Because Elliott is aware of the life-changing benefits of music, he raises money for the school's music program and performs for the students each year.

Why Elliott is a HearStrong Champion

Elliott is a HearStrong Champion because he has tackled every challenge to come his way and is dedicated to making the world a better place for other individuals with hearing loss. He is thankful for all the support he has received from others, and wants to continue this trend through his own advocacy.

"Even though hearing loss can be very annoying, and sometimes you can feel different than other people, everyone has something that makes them different," says Elliott. "Remember that and you won't feel so different. Don't be afraid to ask for help because everyone is going through something."

On July 20, 2016, Elliott performed in front of an auditorium of friends, family, and hearing healthcare professionals during an EarQ Thrive event.

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