Ron O. had a life-changing encounter with a Cochlear volunteer that led him from struggling with his hearing to hearing with a cochlear implant. Fast forward to now, Ron gives back through the Cochlear volunteer program and even extends his volunteerism to other organizations. Check out the adventures that Ron gets to enjoy now:
Some would call it a coincidence. Others would call it fate. When Ron O. of Pulaski, Pennsylvania went to a work conference in Florida in 2017, he said “can you tell me that again” what felt like 1,000 times a day. Ron had a hearing deficiency for 30 years. He received hearing aids in 1995 and got by, but his hearing had begun to decline substantially.
According to Ron, he had “never seen a soul on the planet that used a cochlear implant.” But when he checked into his Florida hotel for the conference, he noticed many people with cochlear implants in the lobby. Walking to his room, he noticed more and more people with Cochlear lanyards, bags, and so many sound processors! Coincidentally the annual Cochlear Celebration event was being held at his hotel.
April is National Volunteer Month, and what better time to introduce someone whose life was changed by a random encounter with a Cochlear volunteer. A few years and a cochlear implant later, he was a Cochlear volunteer himself.
Then fate intervened
At the hotel, Ron met a Cochlear volunteer, Shawna S. from Colorado, who educated him about cochlear implants and introduced him to a group of volunteers. She and the others in the group spoke with him for three hours on the benefits of a cochlear implant. “I’d never seen anyone using a cochlear Implant, and then I fly 1,000 miles from home and run into 1,000 people with (cochlear) implants,” Ron says.
“That has to be fate. These volunteers changed my life!”
His takeaway from speaking with the volunteers was that hearing aids allow you to get by, but a cochlear Implant will change your life.
When Ron returned home from the conference, he made an appointment with a local clinic for an evaluation. He received his cochlear Implant on October 23, 2017, and Ron heard for the first time with his Cochlear™ Nucleus® 7 Sound Processor in November, 2017.
A brighter future filled with sound
For Ron, having the ability to hear sounds makes the future much brighter, filled with hope and excitement. His ability to hear allows him to more fully enjoy his hobbies, work and volunteer activities.
Before his cochlear implant, Ron missed the freedom to do anything he pleased.
“People don’t realize how a hearing deficiency affects a person’s life. You pull yourself into a shell, not wanting to venture out because you can’t hear. It’s horrible.”
At work he avoided meetings and group settings because he couldn’t hear. He couldn’t use the phone.
Since his cochlear Implant, the entire world has opened up. He embraces meetings, dinners and sporting events and even looks forward to them.
Ron says his favorite accessory is the TV Streamer. The ability to hear the TV regardless of the volume setting “is fantastic,” and the sound is much more detailed, crisp and clear. And he loves the smartphone compatibility with his Cochlear Nucleus 7 Sound Processor. “I never carry the remote, and not needing to is great. I can adjust volume, change programs, check battery life, and track progress, all with my one device, my phone that I carry with me during a normal day. It is first-class innovation. Outstanding!”
Making a difference through volunteering
Today, Ron is a Cochlear volunteer. When he speaks, he wants people to know that a cochlear Implant “will change your life.” He views volunteering as a way of giving back. “If I can make a difference for one person, it would be priceless.”
One of Ron’s passions is Scuba diving. He has been an instructor since 2001. After receiving his cochlear implant, Ron spent two weeks in the Maldives diving with “schools of hammerhead sharks, silvertips, blacktips, Galapagos sharks and my favorite, the tiger shark.”
In addition to his volunteer work with Cochlear, Ron also uses his skills as a diver to volunteer for the Wounded Warrior Project®. In 2018, he had the pleasure of teaching scuba diving to some of the wounded veterans. “It was an emotional and rewarding experience. I wouldn’t have participated without being able to hear.”
When he’s not in the water or volunteering, Ron is an operations supervisor for a natural gas company. He also has a custom woodworking business and is busy building his own Craftsman style home.
“I look forward to the next exciting adventure, the next experience and the next chapter in my life. I am thankful every day for fate intervening and meeting the Cochlear volunteers in Florida. I hope in the future I can have as great an impact on someone else’s life.”
Do you know someone struggling with hearing loss who would benefit from connecting with a Cochlear volunteer like Ron? Connect with a Mentor is a great place to meet Cochlear volunteers and have your questions about cochlear implants answered by someone who has experienced a similar hearing journey. Connect today!
- The Nucleus 7 Sound Processor with Aqua+ is water resistant to level IP68 of the International Standard IEC60529. This water protection rating means that the sound processor with the Aqua+ can be continuously submerged under water to a depth of 3 m (9 ft and 9 in) for up to 2 hours. This water protection only applies when you use a Cochlear Standard Rechargeable Battery Module or Cochlear Compact Rechargeable Battery Module.