Matthew Ricker, a graduate of CHC’s children’s program, shares his personal journey with hearing loss, one that began thirteen years ago when CHC helped his family face their fears and the unknown.
Dear CHC Friends,
Matthew Ricker, age 3.
January 27, 1999, I was a typical 2½ year old playing with my favorite toy airplane. January 28, the next day, I was deaf. I had contracted bacterial meningitis that left me with a profound hearing loss and left my parents in a world full of anxiety and fears of the unknown.
Even before formal hearing tests were performed, it was clear to my parents that my hearing was affected by this illness. In the hospital, I was sitting on my mother’s lap with my back to her waiting patiently for her to read me a story. Finally I said, “Read it, read it!” Little did I know she had already been reading to me.
As weeks went on, my health improved, but my hearing did not. My speech started to deteriorate and my parents were desperate for guidance. They wanted to go straight to the best to get me the help I needed. Fortunately they found the Center for Hearing and Communication.
My parents tell me they remember sitting in the waiting room with so many questions and unknowns to face. They were assured by another parent, “You’re in the right place and the best place.” My mother and father told the parent their intention to have me operated on for a cochlear implant. The parent said, “The operation is the easy part. The hard part is the therapy afterwards.”
I began my therapy at CHC immediately. I spent three years coming twice a week for speech and auditory training. Each visit included individual speech therapy and a group session with children my age. Therapists at CHC made my hard work seem like play. I remember learning how to make lemonade on a summer afternoon and acting out stories that were read to us. Little did I know how hard I was working.
Matthew Ricker, high school graduate.
When I reached school age, I was mainstreamed. Thirteen years and a lot of hard work later, I was inducted into the National Honor Society, went to my high school prom, and received the technology award by the New Rochelle Fund for Educational Excellence along with Mariano Rivera and four other students. At my high school graduation ceremony, I was presented an award judged by the Class of 2014 (which had 768 students) to have done the most for and brought the most honor to the school. I was both surprised and humbled.
I am now a freshman at Iona College. The fears, worries and unknowns from 1999 have been faced. The message given to us many years ago in the waiting area – “Don’t worry, you’re in the right place and the best place” – has proven itself true over and over again.
There is no way I would be where I am today without CHC. Their incredible care for kids like me is possible only with support of caring individuals like you. Please make a generous donation to CHC today. Your gift will make all the difference to a new generation of children with hearing loss eager to succeed and ready to begin their journey of “hard work.”
The Center for Hearing and Communication is an accredited non-profit 501(c)(3) organization.