Champion - Sarah Smith

Student • Volunteer

From: Williamsburg, Virginia

Experiencing Hearing Loss

Because she had a grandmother with severe hearing loss, Sarah's mother recognized her hearing loss symptoms when she was very young. She was able to take advantage of early intervention services and received her first hearing aid at the age of four.

Growing up, Sarah struggled with accepting her hearing loss.

"In elementary school I was often teased about wearing hearing aids," Sarah says. "I would put them on in the morning and then place them in my backpack to avoid being teased."

As she got older, Sarah realized that her hearing loss does not define her, and it was certainly not anything to be ashamed of.

"In middle school I realized that wearing my hearing aids was just part of who I am and that being able to hear clearly was more important than worrying about what others thought of them," she states.

Sarah's Accomplishments

Sarah is very active in her community where she is involved in several community service programs.

"I take pride in my work with Lambs Table where I assist in the preparation and distribution of meals to low-income seniors and community members," Sarah says. "I also work with Feeding America… in the Mouth of Wilson/Grayson County community, and Backpack Ministry where I assist in the distribution of food to low-income children so they have food on the weekend."

Her Inspiration

Sarah has two important people who have been role models to her: Serena Williams and her close friend, Abby.

"Serena Williams is strong and does not let critics tear her down," says Sarah. "I love playing tennis, and to push me harder, my coach would often tell me to strive to be like Serena, which definitely helped my tennis skills!"

Sarah also found a role model in her friend Abby who also had hearing loss. Sadly, Abby recently passed away.

"She was the first person that was near my age who wore hearing aids and freely discussed hearing loss," Sarah shares. "Abby encouraged me to see my hearing loss as a part of me and not a burden."

Why Sarah is a HearStrong Champion

With her dedication to help her community and advocacy for those with hearing loss, Sarah embodies HearStrong values. She recognizes that people tend to be ashamed about their hearing loss, so she does everything she can to help them see that it's nothing to be embarrassed about.

Sarah is also open to answer questions and keeps a positive outlook about her hearing loss.

"I am easy going, not ashamed to have hearing aids, and can even joke about it," she says. "I don't let having a hearing loss prevent me from achieving my goals, and I am grateful to have my hearing aids."

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