Oticon, Inc. has announced the winners of the 2020 Oticon Focus on People Awards. Twelve people were recognized for their courage and commitment to helping change the perception of what it means to have hearing loss. Established by Oticon in 1997, the National Awards Program has brought well-deserved recognition to over 300 amazing people who demonstrate that hearing loss does not limit a person’s ability to lead full, productive and even inspiring lives. Over 13,000 votes were cast to select this year’s winners in four categories. In 23 years, the program has connected with tens of thousands of people through the online voting process, raising awareness and inspiring people to take action to address hearing loss.
“Our 2020 award winners convincingly show how life-changing technology and the care provided by dedicated hearing care professionals can empower people with hearing loss to overcome challenges and achieve goals far beyond what many thought possible. Said Nancy Palmere, director of consumer and consumer marketing. Relationships for Oticon, Inc., which runs the national program. “Each serves as a role model, helping to create awareness and change attitudes that can open doors of opportunity for all, but especially those with hearing loss.”
This year’s winners in the Student, Advocacy, Adult and Practitioner categories were honored at a virtual awards ceremony attended by thousands of hearing care professionals from across the United States. In addition to a $ 1,000 prize, the first place winners received a donation of $ 1,000 from Oticon, Inc. to be donated to the non-profit organization of their choice. The first place winners in the Adult, Student and Advocacy categories also received a pair of state-of-the-art Oticon hearing aids.
STUDENT – Wyllow MacLaren, Cleveland, TN
Eight-year-old Wyllow is the founder of the charity “The Giving Berries”. Along with her sister, Paisley, she sells chocolate covered strawberries at a small stall to raise money for worthy causes in her hometown. want to surprise all her friends who also have hearing loss with the first American Girl doll to wear hearing aids. And she succeeded! Today, with the help of other young volunteers, Wyllow continues to fundraise “The Giving Berries” for several other local causes.
ADULT – Narita Snead, Richmond, Virginia
As a child, Narita feared that wearing hearing aids would interfere with her ability to lead a full and successful life. She tells her story with compassion in the recently published children’s book, Zola Gets Hearing Aids. Today, the accomplishments of this worried little girl are testament to what people with hearing loss can achieve. Narita is a respected nurse practitioner with advanced degrees in public health administration. It owns and operates an independent health care department and a hospice care agency. Her non-profit organization Sodality Respite Inc. provides palliative care to the homeless.
ADVOCACY – Dylan Rafaty, Plano, Texas
Dylan is a navigator, influencer, and disability rights advocate. He started DylanListed, a provider of transition assistance services, and works for C-Hear, Inc. as head of accessibility strategy and partnerships. Her book, Occupy Special Education – Children Should Be Seen and Heard, encourages students with disabilities to speak out about their educational needs. Dylan sits on many boards, including the Texas Governor’s Committee on Persons with Disabilities. In 2020, he was inducted into the Susan M. Daniels Disability Mentoring Hall of Fame.
PRACTITIONER – Kristina Sheehan, AuD, Fort Wayne, IN
Tina is passionate about giving people the information they need to successfully navigate the world with hearing loss. This year, she has doubled her efforts to advocate for the return of hearing-impaired students to school amid the COVID pandemic, working closely with teachers and schools. As Director of Audiology at the nonprofit GiveHear, Tina leads a dedicated team that provides hearing care to underserved adults and children.
There are eight second and third place winners in the four categories of the program:
STUDENT 2nd Place – Sara Rodriguez, San Antonio, Texas
3rd place – Owen Chapman, Mt. Pleasant, SC
ADULT 2nd place – Matt Hay, Westfield, IN
3rd place – Matt Deller, Sun City, AZ
ADVOCACY 2nd Place – Sherry Ball, Fall Branch, TN
3rd Place – Jerry Bergman, New York, NY
PRACTITIONER 2nd place – Jessica Messersmith, PhD, Vermillion, SD
3rd Place – Sheri Mello, AuD, Raleigh, NC
To watch a short video of the first place winners, visit www.Oticon.com/FOP
Editor’s Note: The original material has been provided by Oticon. TThe accuracy of the information in this press release is the responsibility of the source, and the opinions expressed are not necessarily those of The Hearing Journal. Read more on bit.ly/Hjbreakingnews.