Over 7700 people have raised more than $3.2 million for causes close to their hearts through their participation in the Sun-Herald City2Surf presented by Westpac in Sydney. Referred to as the largest run in Australia and the world, this 14 kilometre race from Hyde Park in the CBD to the finish at Bondi Beach is an opportunity for individuals and organisations to raise funds for needy causes.
Jim Hungerford, the Chief Executive Officer of The Shepherd Centre is joining this race in person for the very same reason - to help raise funds for a cause close to his heart. In his case, to help the many deaf and hearing-impaired children in his Centre to listen and speak. Here is his story of a young girl named Amelia and her parents, Jen and Oliver.
Jim met Amelia when she was 7 months old. She was the first child of a lovely young couple, Jen and Oliver. Unlike other 7 month old children, Amelia was deaf. Jen and Oliver had no experience with deafness in their family, and questioned the future for Amelia. Would she ever be able to speak? To join others in mainstream school? They were worried and at a loss as to what to do. Then Jim and the Shepherd Centre stepped in.
Initially Amelia had hearing aids, but the Centre could tell that she wasn't hearing well through them. After much worrying, planning and counselling, Amelia was scheduled to receive her first cochlear implant when she was 11 months of age. The surgeon delicately divided through the tissues behind her ear down into her skull to reveal her cochlea (the organ that receives the pressure waves from the ear and turn them into nerve signals our brain can interpret as sound) to gently place the implant electrode within it. She was so tiny and young. 2 weeks later when Amelia's audiologist did the initial 'switch-on' of the implant, the little girl heard her parents' voices through it for the very first time. Now, 3 years later, she welcomes Jim with a cheeky hello when she visits the Centre.
But there is an extra twist in the story. A couple of weeks ago Jen gave birth to Olivia, Amelia's little sister. Olivia is profoundly deaf. The difference this time is Jen and Oliver know what's ahead of Olivia and they know the days ahead can become better. Amelia, Olivia and their parents Jen and Oliver is one of the reasons why Jim is joining the City2Surf. He is trying to do his bit to ensure that the Centre can provide many more days like this, days when the Centre can change someone's life for the better.
The Shepherd Centre is recognised as a world leader in the field of early intervention Auditory-Verbal Therapy. It specialises in teaching deaf children to speak, through its Auditory-Verbal and cochlear implant program. The Centre has assisted close to 2,000 deaf or hearing impaired children since 1970. If you would like to help Jim give deaf children a voice, go to city2surf2014.everydayhero.com/au/jim-hungerford, and donate to help Amelia, Olivia and the many others that The Shepherd Centre supports each year.