Oticon, Inc. announced the winners of the 21st Annual Oticon Focus on People Awards, a program dedicated to honoring individuals with hearing loss and the hearing care professionals who open new possibilities for the hearing impaired community. People across the U.S. cast a record-breaking 15,000 votes to determine the first, second and third place winners in four categories—Student, Adult, Practitioner and Advocacy.
The 2019 first place winners in each category are:
- Student: Catherine Fitzgerald of Mansfield, Massachusetts is a determined high school student who developed and conducted American Sign Language (ASL) training sessions for Mansfield Police Department officers and civilian employees to help them bridge the communication gap with hearing impaired people in the community. Catherine also produced an ASL pocket guide for on-the-job use that has already been requested by other police departments.
- Adult: Tony Reisdorff of Papillion, Nebraska is a middle school teacher and coach who leads by example. As a person with hearing loss and the father of a young son with a genetic disorder that impacts speech, communication and learning, he is passionate about creating a world that accepts and respects people of all abilities. Tony puts that passion to work by openly discussing his use of hearing aids to promote inclusion among his students and athletes.
- Practitioner: Dr. Jennifer Lightfoot, Au.D. of Alexandria, Virginia wasn’t diagnosed with hearing loss until she was 5 years old. That personal experience set the course of her career: A dedicated practitioner, Dr. Lightfoot focuses on the importance of early hearing intervention both in the classroom and beyond. She cares for young students with hearing loss at Kendall Elementary School on the campus of Gallaudet University, has traveled to Guatemala to assist in the fitting of hearing aids for hundreds of disadvantaged children, and has served as the co-chair for the early intervention committee for the DC Chapter of Early Hearing Detection and Intervention.
- Advocacy: Emma Faye Rudkin of Boerne, Texas has dedicated her life to helping people with hearing loss through Aid the Silent, a non-profit she founded as a teenager. Today, the program helps economically disadvantaged deaf and hard-of-hearing children and teens reach their full potential and live more fully by increasing access to hearing aids and resources. Emma Faye also created global impact with a self-affirming campaign – #ShowYourAids – that went viral with tens of thousands of people posting their hearing aids and implants.
In addition, Oticon has recognized Dr. Amanda Mooneyham, M.D. of Redding, California with an Outstanding Achievement Award. The 2001 Oticon Focus on People Student category winner is a former Deaf United States Junior Alpine Racing Champion and served on the United States Deaflympics Team in 2003 and 2007, winning a gold medal in Alpine Skiing. Amanda is now a primary care physician at Shasta Community Health Center, where she delivers expert care to children and adults with the help of hearing aids, lip-reading and an electronic stethoscope with headphones.
“The 2019 Focus on People Award winners are another group of extraordinary individuals whose advocacy and dedication to making a difference for the hearing impaired community has impacted countless lives,” says Nancy Palmere, Director of Consumer Marketing and PR for Oticon. “Through their work and incredible accomplishments, these individuals are tearing down preconceived notions about hearing loss.”
The 2019 Oticon Focus on People second and third place winners include:
- Student — Eryk Mejia of Marana, Arizona; Daniel Carey of Virginia Beach, Virginia
- Adult — Allison Adams of Fuquay Varina, North Carolina; William Dunckelman of Houma, Louisiana
- Practitioner — Dr. Stephanie Long, Au.D. of Appleton, Wisconsin; Dr. Evonne Long, Au.D. of Jacksonville, Florida
- Advocacy — Kerry Cerra of Coral Springs, Florida; Dr. Max Chartrand, Ph.D. of Casa Grande, Arizona
First place winners were recognized at the annual Oticon Focus on People Awards ceremony on Nov. 21 at Oticon’s Headquarters in Somerset, New Jersey. First place winners in the Student, Adult and Advocacy categories each receive a cash prize, trophy, donation to a charity of their choice, and a pair of Oticon hearing aids. The first place winner in the Hearing Care Practitioner category receives a cash prize, trophy and donation to the charity of their choice. All second and third place winners receive a cash prize and a Certificate of Recognition from Oticon.
Established in 1997, the national Oticon Focus on People Awards program recognizes individuals who have surmounted hearing loss, or who have helped others do so, and altered their communities for the better. Oticon’s awards program has now honored more than 280 remarkable individuals with hearing loss and hearing care professionals over its 21-year history.
To read the stories of the 21st Annual Oticon Focus on People Awards winners, visit www.Oticon.com/FOP.
Official photos of the 2019 Oticon Focus on People Award winners are available here.
Oticon is one of the most innovative hearing device manufacturers with more than 110 years of experience putting the needs of people with hearing loss first. Oticon has spearheaded a number of technological breakthroughs, which have made a significant difference for people with hearing loss. Oticon’s “brain first” audiological focus recognizes that speech understanding and comprehension are cognitive processes that happen in the brain. Oticon’s innovative BrainHearing™ technology is helping to provide better hearing with less effort by giving the brain the clearest, purest sound signals to decode. Oticon designs and manufactures hearing solutions for adults and specialized pediatric instruments. People First is Oticon’s strongest and most valued commitment to empower people to communicate freely, interact naturally and participate actively. For more information visit www.oticon.com.