Champion - Joshua McGriff

Deaflympian • Dream Chaser

From: Somerset, NJ
Nominated by: the HearStrong Foundation

Discovering Hearing Loss

Like many, Joshua's hearing loss began in his childhood.

"My (hearing) loss was a result of severe jaundice after birth," said Joshua. "I was readmitted to the hospital with hyperbillirubenanemia (severe jaundice) at three days old and as a result, I lost hearing. But, I was not diagnosed with hearing loss until I was two years old. That is when my parent's realized my speech was delayed."

Overcoming Hearing Loss

"I received (my first pair of hearing aids) a few days before my second birthday. My mom tells me that my face really lit up when I heard her voice for the first time. I was mainstreamed in school and in the beginning I was treated different than everyone else. But once my classmates got to know me for my character and my personality, the hearing aids did not matter anymore. I enjoyed sports and tried out for the basketball team in 8th grade, but I was cut. Rather than feel sorry for myself, I worked really hard to improve my skills. I also got involved in doing community service activities…helping others made me feel good about myself and helped me realize that I have a lot to be thankful for. The next year, I tried out for the basketball team and this time, I made it. I eventually became the captain of our varsity team and was the leader in blocks, rebounds and scores."

When Joshua was 14, he received cochlear implants to help improve his speech.

"(The implants) really changed my life," he said. "I began to hear much clearer and I was noticing sounds that I didn't hear before."

In the fall, Joshua will attend Gallaudet University to study studio art and digital media.

"Having better hearing helped me improve my grades so that I could get accepted into a great school like Gally and start to form relationships with other hearing impaired students."

Team USA

"But before attending college, I have the honor of representing the United States in the 2013 Deaflympics in Bulgaria this summer. I will be the youngest player on the men's basketball team that is made up of 12 players from around the country. I am so excited about this opportunity to experience another culture and to play basketball with some of the best players from around the world!"

Why Joshua is a HearStrong Champion

"I want people to know that having a hearing loss does not define who we are. There is a whole world out there and we have to find the courage to go after what we want and we cannot be stopped by a disability. When I wake up in the morning, I know that I have two choices: I can continue to dream or I can chase my dreams. I choose to chase them and people with (hearing loss) should chase their dreams too!"

Joshua is honored as a HearStrong Champion at the 2013 EarQ Compliance Update and Oticon Product Training Event in Somerset, NJ on September 27th.

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