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On Saturday I attended the Kickoff Event for the Salt Lake City Walk4Hearing™ and I am so glad I did. The Walk4Hearing is the Hearing Loss Association of America’s largest awareness and fundraising event held in cities across the United States.

The Hearing Loss Association of America is dedicated to providing information, education, advocacy and support to enable people with hearing loss to lead rich and productive lives.
This will be Salt Lake City’s first Walk4Hearing event and it was clear by the enthusiasm at the Kickoff that the walk on October 9, 2010 will be a success. Over 150 people attended the Kickoff – three times the participants for the Kickoff events in Chicago and Wappinger Falls, NY. I left the event feeling upbeat and excited for what is to come.
But what really resonated with me was hearing the personal stories of those involved and affected and it helped me to realize why it’s important to be a part of the Walk4Hearing.
I heard Ronnie Adler’s story of how she learned to lip read and just be a follower as to not call attention to her hearing loss because she didn’t want to go to a deaf school. There was no technology and little awareness. Even today her experience would be much different than it was then.
I heard Hot Rod Hundley’s story about how after years of exposure to loud noises while playing basketball and then calling basketball games he developed a significant hearing loss. It took him many years not to feel embarrassed about wearing hearing aids.
I heard John Pope’s story of what he has witnessed over the last twenty-five years due to the HLAA’s advocacy efforts. He talked about being able to walk into any hotel room in the country and have the ability to make a phone call. Or, being able to hear any theatrical performance or museum audio tour with an assistive device.  
Most of us give little thought to our ears until we have a problem hearing. I might even suggest that hearing can be pretty effortless. But for someone with a hearing loss, it’s simply not that easy to participate and be fully engaged. A simple dinner conversation at a noisy restaurant becomes a struggle. Meetings at work become stressful. Alarm clocks and smoke alarms go unheeded. Often when someone finds themselves in this situation they may not know where to find the information and support they need to overcome the communication obstacles that hearing loss creates.
I believe that with about one in ten people in the US having a hearing loss that we all know someone close to us that is affected. Both my husband and my sister-in-law have a hearing loss and while we have had some funny moments about it, I’ve also witnessed their frustration and withdrawal from situations – all because they can’t fully hear.
I feel like with my professional life I have the privilege of being part of a company that offers solutions for those who need auditory assistance. It is so rewarding to hear from our customers what a difference it can make to them when they can fully participate and experience an event because they can hear.

So, why walk? I think it’s pretty simple, because your individual effort can make a difference for 36 million people who have hearing loss who might just also be yourself, your neighbor, a loved one, your co-worker, or your friend.

Three separate ListenTALK receivers in a row with different group names on each display screen.
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