Champion – Katie DiBenedetto

Speaker • Well-Rounded Student

From: Danville, IN

Early Action

After her newborn screening, Katie’s parents learned that she had bilateral hearing loss. She was fitted for hearing aids at three months of age. Because of this early detection and the use of her devices, Katie leads a fulfilling and active childhood.

Embracing Her Differences

“I have pretty typical friendships and relationships. Sometimes I have to ask my friends or family to face me, but otherwise I am not much different than my hearing friends,” Katie says. “In my education, I have learned to be an advocate for myself and I have maintained an A-B average in school.”

She doesn’t let hearing loss get in her way. She’s very active and is involved in many different activities.

“So far, I have not found many things I cannot do because of my hearing loss,” Katie says. “Currently, I am very active in the theatre. I have also done activities such as dance classes, golf, and most recently, track.”

Speaking Up for Others

In 2009, Katie’s family started Katie’s Hear to Help, a foundation that raises money to purchase hearing aids for children. She is very active in the foundation, serving as a board member, speaker, and volunteer.

Most recently, Katie spoke in front of both the Indiana House of Representatives and the state Senate about the need for hearing aid legislation. She and her family were successful in working with a group of Indiana legislatures to get a state-funded hearing aid plan that provides all children with hearing loss under the age of 19 with with hearing aids.

“I just want to help all families and children overcome the obstacles in getting the assistance they need,” she says.

Why Katie is a HearStrong Champion

Even at a young age, Katie has overcome the challenges of hearing loss to succeed in school, extracurricular activities, and more. In conjunction with her family’s fundraising foundation, she is an active speaker and advocate for families of other children with hearing loss.

When asked if she had any advice for people who have hearing loss but may be hesitant about seeking help, she said, “What do you have to lose? We are all special and unique; having hearing aids or cochlear implants doesn’t change who you are on the inside.”

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