From: Brooklyn, NY
Nominated by: Joseph A. Gullo II of Universal Audiology and Hearing Aid Center in Buffalo, NY
Vako’s journey to hearing better began when he was just two years old. After running a very high fever, Vako began experiencing hearing difficulties. Worried for their son and wanting to provide him with every opportunity possible, Vako’s parents, immigrants from the nation of Georgia, began searching for the right hearing solution.
After numerous doctors’ visits and discussions, Vako was finally fitted with hearing devices at the age of five.
Around the same time he was discovering and overcoming his hearing difficulties, Vako was also discovering his love of dance and performing. For Vako, dancing is a way of expression and celebration.
An avid Brooklyn Nets fan, Vako often checked out the team’s website to learn about upcoming games and community events. That’s how, in 2013, he learned that his favorite team would be auditioning kids for a dance team—the Brooklyn Nets Kids.
While competition was steep—roughly 500 children danced at the audition—Vako’s talent, determination, and charisma won him one of the exclusive 17 spots.
In order to earn a spot on the team and demonstrate that he could keep up without any special considerations, Vako and his parents decided not to tell his instructors that he had hearing loss and wore hearing devices. But after a few misunderstandings occurred during the first rehearsals, they decided to explain the situation.
Even more impressed with their talented dancer, the instructors simply began taking steps to ensure Vako was confident with every direction given.
Today, Vako is a stand-out member of the Brooklyn Nets Kids and is a dance student at the prestigious LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts.
Vako’s dreams include attending Juilliard and dancing on Broadway.
“I don’t think hearing loss affects my life. I feel I’m (a) regular kid with extra ears!”
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