HearStrong Foundation takes aim against untreated hearing loss
Even though today’s hearing devices are smaller and more effective than they were less than ten years ago, few Americans who would benefit from wearing them actually do. Not only that, most people diagnosed with hearing loss wait as many as 10 years before seeking treatment, according to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.
Those are statistics the HearStrong Foundation isn’t willing to accept. Founded in 2013, the foundation was created with the goal of raising awareness for hearing healthcare by empowering those with untreated hearing loss to “learn the truth about hearing devices and take control of their health.”
The foundation is sponsored by EarQ, a hearing care brand and network of independent hearing healthcare professionals, the NFL Players Association and Legends, the National Basketball Retired Players Association.
The foundation’s mission -- to recognize the accomplishments of those who have overcome hearing loss -- has led them to identify and promote HearStrong Champions to serve as hearing health ambassadors in their communities worldwide. Individuals who “refuse to let hearing loss determine who they are and what they can accomplish,” are nominated by friends and family members directly on the HearStrong website.
Once the nomination is received, the nominee submits a written interview and photo for review and evaluation. Those who are selected receive an official certificate and gold medal. When appropriate, the individual is recognized at their EarQ provider location. Since 2013, HearStrong has named more than 100 champions.
Celebrity sport ambassadors such as retired NBA All-Stars Cedric Ceballos and Jerry West, NFL Hall of Famer Joe DeLamielleure and Chicago Bears Vice President Brian McCaskey honor HearStrong Champions at public events. Professional ambassadors include audiologists such as Joe Gullo and Dr. Stephanie Long as well as mom Jeanine Gleba, who spearheaded a grassroots advocacy campaign in New Jersey resulting in Grace's Law after her newborn daughter was diagnosed with hearing difficulties.
Profile of a Champion
HearStrong champions come in all shapes and sizes, including Lucas Todd from Mountain Home, Arkansas, a Boy Scout who is active in his church and recently took second place in the county spelling bee. Lucas credits his hearing aids for helping him achieve in school.
“With the help of my hearing aids, I have been able to have as normal a life as possible,” he says on the HearStrong website. “I have been involved in lots of different activities and I go to regular classes at school. If someone with hearing loss was unsure about seeking assistance, I would tell them 'you should see an audiologist because there might be a solution.'”
Another HearStrong Champion, KT Maviglia, was crowned Miss Michigan 2014. KT was diagnosed with sensorineural hearing loss when she was nine years old. Although her parents were told their expectations for their daughter surpassed her abilities, KT graduated from the University of Michigan with honors. Passionate about insurance reform, she co-authored legislation that would mandate minimal insurance coverage of hearing devices for children in the state of Michigan. Her nonprofit organization, KT Maviglia Fund for Hearing, provides financial assistance for children's hearing devices not covered by insurance policies.
KT’s advice for those who are hesitant about seeking treatment for their hearing loss is to “take action and always remember to focus on your ABILITIES.”
Those who don’t have someone to nominate for HearStrong Champion can still contribute to the cause by making a donation. Funds raised by the HearStrong Foundation go toward planning, development and execution of the HearStrong Champion Awards ceremonies. A portion of the funds helps acquire hearing devices for those in need.
Additional information on the HearStrong Foundation’s website includes educational information about hearing loss, hearing aids and cochlear implants. Supporters can also subscribe online to the foundation’s newsletter to receive information about HearStrong Champions and special events.
HearStrong hopes their Champions will “serve as role models to the more than 30 million Americans with untreated hearing loss to take control of their hearing health.” That begins by scheduling a hearing evaluation with a qualified professional and accepting the prescribed treatment for any hearing loss they may detect. If you’re not hearing as well as you used to, visit our directory of consumer-reviewed clinics to identify a hearing healthcare provider in your community and start your journey to better hearing today.