The crowd is roaring, cheerleaders cheering, coaches are yelling and teammates are making play calls. As hearing impaired athletes, my sister and I did not necessarily hear all of this. Growing up in a small town atmosphere and loving sports, teammates and coaches found ways to communicate with us to ensure we were part of the team, part of the family, by making sure he/she was standing next to us when talking or giving us hand signals during play.
My sister and I were very fortunate to have a close, caring, understanding and loving family to help guide us through life. But they made sure we had to work for everything we earned and did not take anything else in life for granted, much less our hearing. My sister, who has cochlear implants, provided me with a great example of how not to let our hearing loss keep us from doing anything we dreamed. Growing up she was very active with sports. Even as she went on to college, she was a football cheerleader while earning her degree.
Growing up I had a strong passion for playing sports – football, basketball, baseball and track. Sometimes the sweat would get into my hearing aids causing them to not work correctly and I would still have to play parts of games without hearing – relying solely on reading lips and using hand signals that our team had put together for such cases. It was a challenge that my teammates had recognized. That is when you learn to connect with friends, family and teammates on a new level.
To help bridge that gap, last year I founded Sports for Sound, a non-profit entity designed to raise funds and help hearing impaired patients who need financial assistance with obtaining new hearing aids, molds, FM systems for the classrooms or whatever his/her needs may be. After making appointments with my audiologist and needing new hearing aids for the first time since I have been on my own, it hit me how costly they can be, even with insurance. This is what motivated me to want to help those who may need assistance.
To help better educate the participants with hearing and show them why hearing is truly important, participants in the running events must wear ear plugs. This helps the participants better understand what hearing impaired people go through and how much we need to rely on our other senses.
Our first year (2014) was dubbed a success raising over $23,000 and providing assistance to 10 applicants. In 2015, 2015 we raised $18,000 & we were able to provide new hearing aids to 8 recipients. Sports for Sound is having its 3rd annual event on May 21st, 2016 at the Eastern Ohio Sports Complex in Sherrodsville, OH. The event is held in May to coincide with “Better Hearing & Speech Month.” This year our event will feature a 5K obstacle run, 10K road run and 5K cross country walk. The event will also have food, raffles, silent auction and a Chinese auction.
Chase Ross is the founder of Sports for Sound. His goal is to grow SFS to help assist hearing impaired patients beyond its established location, Tuscarawas County, OH., all while giving participants the experience of being hearing impaired while participating in SFS events.