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September 21, 2012 | SOI General: Headquarters

Rebirth through the gift of hearing.

By Stephen Corbin

I will never forget the moment - the energy, excitement celebration, tears. It was 2005 at the World Winter Games in Nagano, Japan. The team from Uganda was visiting Healthy Athletes, dressed in their colorful uniforms. A coach brought over one of his Unified Football Athletes, Alice,age 18, to be tested in Healthy Hearing, stating simply that she could not hear. After testing, two things were clear. Alice had significant hearing loss in both ears and we felt that she could be treated with hearing aids.Custom molds were made of the ear canals and sent out for fabrication of the hearing aids.The next day Alice came back and the hearing aids were placed in her ears. At that moment, Dr. Gil Herer said softly, "Alice". She looked up in clear astonishment.Tears came to her eyes. Her teammates jumped with joy, as if they had won the gold medal, and hugged everyone within reach. The delegation head said, "She has never heard her name spoken before. Now she can hear her teammates and now she can go to school because she is able to learn."Other athletes received the miracle of hearing at these Games. I was lucky enough to see this one in person.

About Stephen Corbin: I am Senior Vice President, Community Impact, at Special Olympics headquarters

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