For the first time in his life, he could hear the aura of a crowd. Fans from all over the world cheering him on.
A little bit of encouragement can go a long way and when you are hearing it clearly for the first time at 29 years old, it can be life-changing. That was just the motivation Said Bes needed during the powerlifting competition on Saturday at the Special Olympic World Games.
Healthy Hearing Tent
That afternoon, the Palestinian athlete returned to the Healthy Hearing tent to see the volunteers from Starkey Hearing Technologies, where he had received his new hearing aid. Bes hugged everyone in sight, smiling cheek-to-cheek with his fists clenched, holding four bright red roses. The athlete was overwhelmed with joy that he took home the bronze medal in four different events that morning.
Thanks to Owner and CEO of Starkey Hearing Technologies, Bill Austin and his group of volunteers, thousands of athletes just like Bes have been screened and 120 athletes have been given hearing devices over the last three days at the Special Olympics World Games.
While screening Sethni Saumya Ramasinghe—a footballer from Serendib (Sri Lanka)—Austin discussed the reasons why the 17-year-old girl had been ruled “completely deaf” throughout her lifetime before experiencing their technology.
“She is taking a power two and three hearing aid here,” Austin said. “Our hearing aids run from power one, which is the very weakest we have, to power 10. So, this girl is taking our next to weakest hearing aid and it’s plenty loud. And it’s like this all over the world.”
A friend Austin went on to discuss how Ramasinghe, like many other people who experience hearing for the first time, will likely have to learn to speak because she hasn’t properly heard enough to know how to speak.
“She just needs a friend to help her hear and respect her enough to do something for her,” Austin said. “That’s all she needs. She just hasn’t had anyone to give her that help.”
A friend is what the Special Olympics World Games bring to each of these athletes. Many friends, from all over the world, that are volunteering their time and are willing to help these athletes become the best they can be.
This article was produced as part of the AIPS Young Reporters Programme at the Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019, generously supported by the Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF).