My name is Kierstyn Kuehnle (Kiki) and I am 16 years old. I'm ecstatic to be participating in my 6th Walk 4 Hearing and also to be raising funds for this heart-warming cause! I was born completely deaf in my left ear and seven years ago, I lost partial hearing in what was once considered my "good ear" - my right ear. Currently, I wear a hearing aid in my right ear and I still am, since birth, unable to have any hearing assistance in the left ear. However, with all of the evolving research today , maybe one day I will! Although it has been challenging for me, in certain situations, I am so happy to have a supportive group of family and friends along with the stellar group of doctors at C.H.O.P.
Since losing the hearing in my good ear, I have started at a new school, now a Junior in High School. I have since participated in Tennis, Track, Best Buddies, Peer to Peer Club, Student Council, NJHS, ASL Club ( ASL Representative) and participated in many school plays! I have loved learning sign language, and hope to learn more! I have made so many new and supportive friends during these past 7 years through this new journey in my life. I have still continued with my favorite activities, such as , dancing, singing, cooking, acting, and of course fundraising. My town has been one of my biggest cheerleaders. Along with my motivating family, who always encourage my dreams and ideas on how to help others more effectively each year.
My mission is to not only raise monetary donations, but to help, educate and also teach myself about hearing loss, deafness and deaf culture. I want students to feel comfortable and confident in the classroom to advocate for themselves. I hope to inspire and encourage those who have hearing loss but are embarrassed to wear their hearing aid, to eventually be proud. I hope and dream of making as many places as possible hearing accessible. Such as, the classroom which is such an important foundation for every student as well as to feel confident and to get the most out of their education.
In 2017, I was awarded with the Prudential Spirit of Community award as the top Middle School volunteer in the state of NJ! I've also had the amazing opportunity in December of 2017 to share more about my journey with all of South Jersey, on my "SNJ Today" appearance! Also a speaker at CHOP’s “Family Day,” where I had the opportunity to speak to Hearing parents about the lessons, adventures and positive outcomes their child will have with their hearing aids , cochlear implants or use of ASL. I’ve also met NJ State Senator, Corey Booker, along with the opportunity of meeting with NJ State Commissioner of Education. Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to advocate for the passing of two bills to protect Deaf Babies rights for ASL and Equal rights and opportunities for Deaf students in front of NJ State Legislature. Most Recently, the HLAA has awarded me the 2019 Outstanding Young Adult of the Year. I’ll be receiving the award June 22 at The HLAA’s “Cheers to 40 Years Gala”
My first walk the 60% went to HLAA and 40% of the raised funds went to my previous alliance, CHOP Audiology department. The next two walks my alliance was my local Middle School, O.C.I.S. They are now able to place an FM system microphone and speaker in every classroom. This past walk, the 40% has been donated to my ASL Club for more resources and studies in order for students to experience more about Deaf Culture, History and the language! I am so proud of Team Kiki and the awareness and education that we have raised. As well as the $90,000+ that we have raised through generous help and participants. This year I hope to raise $30,000 our largest goal yet! We have also had over 100+ amazing and supportive walkers that I am forever thankful too.
PS-We would love to have WALKERS on our team! (This year virtually) It's such a fun day and you will get a Team Kiki t-shirt designed by me!!!
The Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) Walk4Hearing increases awareness about hearing loss, helps to eradicate the stigma associated with it and raises funds to provide information and support for people with hearing loss. Since 2006, the Walk4Hearing has raised more than $9 million and has become the largest walk for hearing taking place in cities across the United States.
We walk because hearing loss is a public health issue third in line after heart disease and arthritis.
48 million people have some form of hearing loss
26 million people have noise-induced hearing loss that could have been prevented
2 to 3 out of every 1,000 children are born deaf or with a hearing loss
60 percent of the people with hearing loss are either in the work force or in educational settings
Hearing loss affects one's ability to communicate every day in different situations - from a dinner conversation at a noisy restaurant, on the phone, to not hearing alarm clocks and smoke alarms. For people with hearing loss, these situations can be become obstacles without the right information and support. HLAA provides the assistance and resources for people with hearing loss and their families to learn how to adjust to living with hearing loss.
For more information about HLAA, please visit www.hearingloss.org.