Nominated by: The HearStrong Foundation
From: Bolingbrook, IL
"I was born with normal hearing and became hard of hearing in elementary school," said Karen. "I received my first hearing aid when I was nine and I disliked it immensely. I hid it from others and never wore it during the summer. I struggled to fit in with others and was very uncomfortable dealing with my hearing loss."
"When I was 19, I became deaf from a fall while barefoot water skiing," said Karen. "I realized I could no longer hear anything without hearing aids. I struggled in my college classes and with every day conversation. One morning, I had an epiphany—I could choose one of two things: I could continue to mourn and battle this change, or I could accept it. I had a complete change of attitude—I embraced life as a deaf person and learned American Sign Language. The transformation helped me to embrace my hearing aids as well, and now I wear them with brightly colored glitter ear molds."
"Ironically, becoming deaf turned out to be a blessing in my life. At first, I thought it was the worst thing to happen to me. But after making the decision to accept this change in life, great things began to happen," said Karen. "Self-acceptance was the biggest shift—I learned that being deaf was not the end of the world. Instead, my world opened up."
Karen's popular blog, "A Deaf Mom Shares Her World," lets her share her personal experiences with overcoming hearing loss with her family (her husband and their three children also have hearing loss) and her professional work to inspire others to be the best versions of themselves.
"I took up barefoot water skiing again at the age of 45 and I train with the World Barefoot Champions. I learned to barefoot backwards—something I couldn't even envision as a teen—and now I compete in tournaments. I'm having the time of my life!"
Because of her tireless efforts to spread hearing health awareness, advocate for those with hearing loss and educate others through her writing and presentations, Karen is a wonderful example of what it means to be a HearStrong Champion.
"I love helping others on the deaf and (hearing loss) journey—so much more fun to walk together on it (rather) than (walk) alone!"
Karen's advice for those with hearing loss who are unsure about seeking assistance: "You're not alone! The hardest thing to do sometimes is to reach out for assistance and information, but by getting support on the journey, you can go so much further than if you attempted it alone. There are so many wonderful resources, groups, organizations, professionals, deaf and hard-of-hearing people to tap into. Technology today has made it so much easier to navigate life as a deaf/hard-of-hearing person."
Learn more about hearing loss, hearing aids, cochlear implants and how to live with hearing loss the HearStrong way.
A HearStrong Champion is an individual who refuses to let their hearing loss stand in the way of living a successful, well-rounded life. If this sounds like you or someone you know nominate them today!
The HearStrong Foundation depends on donations large and small from people like you who are passionate about hearing loss and the individuals affected by it.