Friday, July 11, 2014

HLAA Convention: Day Four

On the final day of the convention, which is on Sunday, HLAA provides an accessible Christian worship service for all who wish to participate. This gathering had been one of the highlights of my convention experience in Milwaukee and I was happy to be able to attend again.

I was one of the first to arrive and I saw Ahme Stone getting our church bulletins ready. Ahme is the widow of Rocky Stone who founded Self Help for Hard of Hearing (SHHH) which later became the Hearing Loss Association of America. You could tell this special time set apart for prayer, songs, and worship meant a great deal to her. She was assisted by a man named Max McCarthy who led the singing. There was also a CART writer typing everything said onto a large screen. According to Max,  she "had the Spirit in her fingertips that morning". The worship service uplifted me and set the right tone for my day. Later on, I had the chance to quietly express my thanks to Ahme Stone. I'm grateful I had the chance to tell her how much her tradition means to me too.

The final event of the convention was an Awards Breakfast and Ceremony. Being new to HLAA, I was curious to learn more about the people who had contributed to the organization's success. One of the highlights for me was seeing Jacob Landis being honored with the Service Award. Last summer Jacob began a coast-to-coast 11,000 mile bike ride to visit every ball park in the U.S. Jacob, who has a cochlear implant, did this to raise funds for those who could benefit from a cochlear implant but cannot afford one. Unfortunately, he was hit by a semi truck and seriously injured on the way to his final stadium. Once he healed, he completed his trip this spring. What an inspiring young man! You can read more about him on the Jacob's Ride website.

Jacob Landis gives his acceptance speech
while emcee Michael Eury looking on
Many awards were given out, but eventually the program was over. Or so our emcee thought until a woman in a cowboy hat rushed onto the stage. As he stepped aside from the mic, he said, "This wasn't in the script." The woman announced there was one final award to present. She called Anna Gilmore Hall, Executive Director of HLAA, to the platform. When she arrived, the woman representing Texas HLAA, said with a drawl, "I'm looking forward to next year's convention in St. Louis so it's time for me to give you the boot!" Then she handed her a crystal cowboy boot with a bottle inside. What a great line and closing to the convention.

Anna Gilmore Hall gets the "boot"
Before I finish this post, I want to mention that it was my great pleasure to have met Alan Kutner, who organized the Show Us the Captions campaign participation in Pennsylvania and Jim DeCaro, board member of both HLAA and Discovering Deaf Worlds. I want to thank Jim Saunders, board member of HLAA, for helping me meet Anna Gilmore Hall and thank Anna for the time she made for me in her busy schedule at the convention. I also want to give a shout out to the new friends I made who weren't mentioned in these convention posts: Carolyn, Cynthia, Gloria, KarenMarcy, Patricia, and Vicki. I also want to share photos of two special ladies I met, Elise De Papp and Nancy Williams. I plan to stay in touch with all of you!

Elise De Papp and me
Me and Nancy Williams
Finally, I'd like to conclude my convention coverage with the message of Rocky Stone and HLAA that was included in our program books: Hearing loss is a daily challenge you can overcome. You do not have to hide your hearing loss. You do not have to face hearing loss alone.

Become a member or make a donation to HLAA at www.hearingloss.org.

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