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Oticon Focus on People Awards Honor Five

PHILADELPHIA May 13, 2002- The 2002 Oticon Focus on People Awards today honored 12 hard-of-hearing people who prove that hearing loss does not limit a person's ability to live a full, productive and even, inspiring life. The national awards competition, sponsored by Oticon, Inc., the world's oldest hearing instrument manufacturer, celebrated the accomplishments of Callie Daniels of Ridgeland, MS, Jessica Malone of Tabernacle, NJ, Brian Farrell of Brooklyn Park, MN, and Betty Timon of Bellevue, KY.

A special award recognizing the critical role of hearing care professionals in improving the world of hearing impaired people was presented to three practitioners: Dr. Claire Kantor of New Providence, New Jersey, Dr. Robert Sweetow of San Francisco, CA and Dr. Dennis Hampton of White Plains, New York.

Selected from over 200 nominees, the 15 winners each earned top honors in one of the program's five categories: Youngster (children, ages 5-12), Student (young people, ages 13-25, who are currently full-time students in middle school, high school or college), Adult (adults, age 18 and over), Advocacy (individuals of all ages who are actively involved in advocacy or support efforts for the deaf and hard-of-hearing community) and Practitioner (for hearing care professionals currently in practice).

Now in its sixth year, the Oticon Focus on People Awards program is designed to focus attention on common misconceptions about hearing loss, correct negative stereotypes and motivate people with hearing loss to take advantage of the help that is available to them.

"Oticon created the Focus on People Awards to show the world that hearing loss does not diminish a person's ability to live life to its fullest and most productive," explained Oticon President Mikael Worning. "Most importantly, we want to encourage those with hearing loss to seek professional guidance and take advantage of the new technologies and procedures that enable them to live the life they want with the hearing they have."

The world's most famous whitewater kayaker and two-time world champion, Eric Jackson, who is hearing impaired, served as a special guest speaker for the awards ceremony. He spoke of his own experience with hearing loss and applauded Oticon's commitment to changing negative stereotypes.

Category Winners

Youngster Category Winner, Callie Daniels of Ridgeland, MS.

Callie Daniels, a fourth grade student at Olde Towne Elementary School, doesn't believe in giving up. This ten year-old may have profound hearing loss, but that hasn't stopped her from doing everything other kids do and more. Mainstreamed at age six, she is also a part of the gifted program at her school, where she participates in the Accelerated Reader program. Callie is not only academically gifted, she is also light on her feet. She has studied ballet since the age of three and was recently cast in her ballet school's Christmas Festival. Recognized as the most outstanding reader in the entire fourth grade, she puts her talent to good use each summer mentoring younger hearing-impaired students at Magnolia Speech School. Callie loves books and reading and when tutoring her young charges, makes sure to read to them, hoping to instill the same "love of words" that she possesses.

Student Winner, Jessica Malone of Tabernacle, NJ.
Jessica Malone embodies a can-do attitude that continues to surprise, impress and educate her classmates and teachers. An outstanding student who combines academic excellence with athletic prowess, seventeen-year-old Jessica is the only hearing impaired student among the 2100 students at Shawnee High School. Ranked among the top U.S. field hockey goalies, Jessica has attended the Nationals three times, where she earned a goal medal last year. This summer, she will travel to Australia to represent the U.S. at the U19 Hockey Tournament. Jessica mixes brains with brawn, maintaining a 3.7 GPA, and is a member of the National Honor Society. Despite her busy schedule, she finds time to volunteer at a local summer day camp and with her church group. Jessica is currently mentoring a group of hearing impaired middle school students, in whom she hopes to instills the same determination to succeed that has enabled her to achieve and give back so much.

Adult Category Winner, Brian Farrell of Brooklyn Park, MN.
Brian Farrell's hearing loss has never interfered with his ability to serve as a mentor and friend to those in need. A volunteer at the Courage Center for more than 10 years, Brian fully subscribes to the Center's mission to empower people with physical disabilities to reach for their full potential in every aspect of life. In fact, he has been living this objective, raising $25,000 in three years for sports programs at Courage Center, and spending many after-work hours assisting others with activities like marksmanship, wheelchair basketball and football. Brian's community service extends beyond the sporting arena. He is also a part of AG Bell's and SHHH's mentoring programs, where he reaches out to hearing impaired youngsters. Having faced his share of obstacles while growing up, he uses his own experiences to counsel children and their parents on dealing with the frustrations and problems that they may encounter. Brian truly believes in making a difference in the lives of others. To this end, he works with the homeless, is on the executive committee of the Minnesota Council for the Hearing Impaired and has won the Twin Cities Magazine "Unsung Hero Award."

Advocacy Category Winner, Betty Timon of Bellevue, KY.
An outstanding advocate for the deaf and hard of hearing community, Betty's efforts have resulted in greater awareness of the needs of the hearing impaired in her tri-state area's state agencies, businesses, and communities. She has worked successfully with local television stations on captioning programs and is a strong legislative advocate, often testifying on behalf of the hearing impaired population. This tireless grandmother currently serves with the Kentucky Commission on the Deaf and Hard of Hearing as a Commissioner, the American Association of Retired Persons, and Kentucky Mental Health for Deaf and Hard of Hearing. She is also Chairperson of the Advisory Board for the Distribution of Telecommunication Devices Program for KY. A founding member of the Greater Cincinnati Chapter of SHHH, Betty interacts with members of the public utilities commissions of Ohio and Kentucky to ensure smooth running of Telephone Relay Services.

Practitioner Category Winner, Claire Kantor of New Providence, NJ.
Dr. Kantor is a dedicated professional who has served the hearing impaired children of New Jersey for nearly 35 years. Her mission is to provide all hearing impaired children with the opportunity to participate fully in the hearing world by imparting to them the ability to speak and communicate effectively. She has served for 19 years as Executive Director of the Summit Speech School, a facility offering programs that allow the "graduating" students to enroll in mainstream local schools. During her terms at the school, Dr. Kantor increased enrollment more than ten-fold, and spearheaded a $5 million capital campaign that resulted in a new state-of-the-art facility for New Jersey's hearing impaired and deaf children. To date, over 2500 children have attended the school, with over 70% of the students crossing over into mainstream kindergartens. Although a large portion of her time is spent with the school, Dr. Kantor also manages to address mothers' groups, college students, civic groups, professional associations and many other community groups on auditory/oral options for the hearing impaired. She is a hero to hearing impaired children in New Jersey, a loyal and fervent advocate on their behalf, and a supportive leader in creating opportunities for all those with hearing loss.

Blue Ribbon Judging Panel
The winners were selected by independent judging committee composed of leading hearing care professionals. This year's program judges included:
Debra Abel, AuD, of Alliance Audiology, Alliance, OH
Granville Brady, Jr., M.A., CCC-SLP/A, East Brunswick, NJ
Mary Jo Grote, Ph.D., CCC-A, FAAA, of Hearing Health Care Center of Manassas, Manassas, VA
Wendy Hanks, Ph.D., CCC-A, FAAA, of Towson University, Towson, MD
Linda Hood, Ph.D., FAAA, of Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, New Orleans, LA

Ten Second and Third Place Winners
The Oticon Focus on People Awards also recognized second and third place winners in each category. Second place winners were: Robert Sweetow, Ph.D. of San Francisco, CA (Practitioner), Don Senger of Martinez, CA (Advocacy), Barbara Bartholow of Gilbert, AZ (Adult), Adam Stone of Del Mar, CA (Student) and Shana Keilson of Boulder, CO (Youngster). Third place winners were Dennis Hampton, Ph.D. of White Plains, NY (Practitioner), Donald J. Ray of Concord, CA (Advocacy), Linnaea Mallette of Chatsworth, CA (Adult), Angelina McKinnon of Pensacola, FL (Student) and Zachary Flora of Pullman, MI (Youngster).

For more information about the Oticon Focus on People Award and hearing health, log on to www.oticonus.com.

For more information on Oticon click here.

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