Celebrate Sound raises awareness of hearing loss

This Saturday you have a chance to walk along a beautiful greenway in Maryville while you support children with hearing loss.

It's an event called Celebrate Sound. The walk this Saturday starts at 9:00 at the Maryville Greenbelt Pavilion.

When Drake Williams was just a baby, his parents found out he was deaf.

Drake's parents found out when he was a baby.

His mother Vagen Williams said, "Luckily there are resources out there and as soon as we found out there were people there to help us along the way."

One resource is therapy sessions for the profoundly deaf at the University of Tennessee Speech and Hearing Center.

Drake is one of the children who participates who has cochlear implants. Those are surgically implanted electronic devices that provided a sense of sound for people who are deaf.

"As soon as he got his first cochlear implant activated his face lit up and he went through a series of emotions that we were lucky enough to catch on camera," his mother said.

The video captures the first time Drake heard his parents' voices. Vagen and Scott Williams have celebrated his progress ever since.

A walk this weekend called Celebrate Sound will spread awareness of hearing loss. It's sponsored by Sertoma.

Don Thompson explained, "It's an acronym. It sounds for Service To Mankind. And the big push inside international Sertoma is hearing health."

He said the walk will raise awareness and benefit three groups: UT Speech and Hearing Department, the Hearing and Speech Foundation in Maryville, and Friends of Tennessee's Babies with Special Needs. That's another group he is affiliated with.

"We try to come along side families and be messengers of hope and encouragement to help with things that can't be done with state or federal dollars, such as respite care," he said.

The care therapists take with children transforms their understanding of the world around them.

"He has to learn what a door shutting sounds like and sounds animals make and things like that. They teach him those things and they also teach the parents which is very important. They teach us what techniques to use at home," Vagen said.

His mom said Drake is testing above his age level in speech and language.

"He talks just like any other child and you can understand him, anybody can understand him, it's not just from a mother's perspective. Anybody can understand what he is saying," she said.

He's a little boy who is thriving with a little help from therapy, technology, and tender loving care.


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