When I look at those words, “Writer, Speaker, Barefoot Waterskier and Mom,” I should feel intimidated. Am I all those things? Over the years, I’ve realized that I am all those things… and more.payday loans I am a woman with many hats, and a lot to share. It is my passion to share the lessons I’ve learned along the path to earn all those hats.
Due to family genetics and a hard fall at age 19, my path in life drastically shifted direction. One beautiful summer day, I turned to cross the wake while barefoot water skiing and caught a toe. After I cart wheeled to a stop, I realized that I could no longer hear anything. In an instant, I went from hard of hearing to deaf. After months of grieving, I finally dried the tears and embraced life as a deaf person. I graduated with a B.S. and M.A. in Counseling, helping others learn how to embrace new life paths of their own.
Life handed me more challenges raising three deaf and hard of hearing children– and tackling a world that doesn’t embrace people who are hard of hearing or deaf. Working with Hands & Voices, a parent-driven organization dedicated to providing non-biased support to families with deaf and hard of hearing children, I knew my area needed its own support group. I founded the Illinois chapter of Hands & Voices, providing support and guidance to parents of deaf and hard-of-hearing children.
In 2008, a simple visit to a local fast food joint turned into a viral rant heard around the world when a Steak and Shake denied service to myself and family because we were deaf.
The incident was picked up by Fox and ABC news and several newspapers. Bloggers from around the world chimed in: Steak ‘n Shake, Looks Like This Touched a Nerve. The Consumerist landed over 200 comments as people discussed the situation. Deaf Life did a five-page spread on the story. Down in Australia, the topic was a large part of a presentation given at an RMIT Communicator of the Year Awards banquet. Diversity, Inc. did a story and a video interview with captioning. As a result of the Steak ‘n Shake incident, other food services and companies are now changing their policies and providing training programs to ensure access for deaf and hard of hearing customers.
I work as a Sales Manager for a videophone company and I write for the Chicago Tribune TribLocal and the Chicago Now Blog. I speak at conferences and to businesses on servicing customers, as well as an inspirational speaker.
Twenty five years after becoming deaf from barefoot water skiing, I embraced my passion and took up barefooting again. I am a sponsored skier with the World Barefoot Center and train with the World Barefoot Champions, Keith St. Onge and David Small.