Hearts for Hearing

The thirty kids at this week’s Hearts for Hearing Camp may have been told at some point in their life that there are things they can’t do, but they’re not listening to the naysayers.

In fact, this week-long camp exists to show these kids they can challenge themselves and defy limitations.

On Tuesday, the Thunder made a series of special appearances at the camp, engaging and entertaining the children with the Rolling Thunder Book Bus, Rumble and the Thunder Girls.

It was difficult to say who was more overjoyed by the visit – the kids in the camp or the Hearts for Hearing staff and counselors, who delighted in seeing the children so fully engaged.

Many of the children expressed love and excitement for reading, racing to the Book Bus when it was their turn to select books to take home with them.

Others laughed and pointed as Rumble – with the help of his crew member, Jon – read and acted out two books, the story of Rumble and another book teaching the importance of staying active.

Some were most excited by the dance clinic put on by Brooke and Sheri, two of our Thunder Girls who taught the campers an entire dance routine.

Kris Taylor, director of development for the nonprofit group, reveled in the fulfillment of many months of planning for the Thunder’s day at the camp.

“We were just struck by how giving the Thunder mentality is back to the community,” said Taylor.

A range of counselors assist at the camp, many of whom have been personally touched by hearing loss. Some counselors are graduates of the program, coming back to help kids through the same issues they faced at a younger age. Others have loved ones with hearing loss – like Julie Richardson, a retired teacher whose great-niece received a cochlear implant when she was a year old.

Richardson’s niece drives in from Arkansas with her daughter for therapy at Hearts for Hearing, and after seeing the impact of this program on the little girl, Richardson decided to get more involved.

“They’ve been unbelievable to my niece,” said Richardson. “They’re incredible … and this has helped me a lot, being with this group.”

The approach Hearts for Hearing offers is to help kids listen and speak, without the aid of an interpreter or other strategies such as lip-reading. They tell children affected by hearing loss that hearing aids and cochlear implants don’t mean they have limitations in the things they can achieve.

All aspects of the Thunder’s visit supported that message. Just like any other kids, they can learn through reading, have fun with Rumble and perform dance routines.

“This was our biggest moment,” said Taylor, who is looking forward to a continued relationship with the Thunder.