Tag Archives: hearing loss in atheletes

Going for Gold: Inspiration from Athletes with Hearing Loss

Glantz, Gordon

The Hearing Journal: February 2018 – Volume 71 – Issue 2 – p 26,27,28,33
doi: 10.1097/01.HJ.0000530641.56193.4d
Cover Story

When Heidi Zimmer was just 2 years old, she was playing outside and wandered onto the roof of a neighboring church. Her panicked parents knew talking her down was not an option, as Zimmer was deaf since birth. Scared of heights, they summoned a student from nearby Arizona State University to bring their adventurous toddler to safety.

“I think that was the moment when I was first inspired to climb mountains,” said Zimmer, who became the first deaf woman to reach the top of Mt. McKinley in 1991, after which she proudly unfurled a banner reading, “DEAF WOMAN, A PARADE THROUGH THE DECADES” (a play on words from the book, “Deaf Women: A Parade Through the Decades, co-authored by Mabs Holcomb and Sharon Wood, that was published two years earlier).

She reached the summit of Mt. Elbrus three years later and Mt. Kilmanjaro two years after that. While her deafness was considered genetic, Zimmer has since been diagnosed with Usher’s Syndrome, a leading cause of deaf-blindness in adults, but she still plans to overcome the obstacles and seek the funding necessary to reach all seven summits.

Aside from a personal goal, climbing mountains stands as a metaphor for all athletes with obstacles, such as full or substantial hearing loss.

Many others—most notably 1984 gold-medal swimmer Jeff Float, 10-time WNBA all-star Tamika Catchings (MVP, 2011), three-time motocross champion Ashley Fiolek, and record-setting distance runner—turned—congressman Jim Ryun (1968 silver medal)—have succeeded, but that height of success is born of humble beginnings rooted in a history of intolerance.

Back around the turn of the prior century, for example, several baseball players—including accomplished pitcher Luther Taylor and outfielder William Hoy—were called “Dummy,” even in newspapers, in place of their first names.

Jack Ulrich played ice hockey in the forerunner to the NHL, the NHA, in the World War I era of outdoor rinks. He detested being called “Dummy” in print to the extent that he penned a letter of protest to the Toronto World about it and received an apology, after which he was referred to by his preferred nickname of “Silent” Jack Ulrich.

See full article here.