Enthusiastic Loud Shirt Day and Loudest Town participants Kerryn and Sam from the small town of Aramac, 120 kilometres west of Longreach, are again making plans for this year's Loud Shirt Day – slated to be the biggest yet!
All for a cause close to their hearts, nine-year-old Emily was diagnosed with profound hearing loss in her left ear and moderate-to-severe loss in her right ear at birth.
The diagnosis came as a surprise to parents Kerryn and Sam, as they had no family history of hearing loss and no troubles during pregnancy.
“Sam and I were in denial for the first couple of weeks, thinking maybe the machine wasn’t working properly or her ears were just blocked,” said Kerryn.
“It wasn’t until we travelled to Brisbane when she was about three weeks old and spoke to an audiologist at the hospital that it actually sunk in,” she said.
“For two new parents from the bush to travel 1,200km away from our home and family to seek answers was very daunting.
“I can still remember those first couple of months so clearly – it was a whirlwind of appointments with many different specialists and so much information to absorb.”
When Emily was about four months old, she was fitted with hearing aids and at one year old she had her first cochlear implant surgery. In 2021 Emily had her second cochlear implant surgery as her hearing aid in her right ear was no longer enough.
Emily sees Hear and Say fortnightly for specialised speech therapy sessions via telehealth, and travels to the Townsville and Brisbane centres for audiology services.
“Her speech and language blows us away every day. Her reading and writing is immaculate and she loves to learn,” said Kerryn.
“It’s been a long road, but we are so proud of how far Emily has come and we are confident she has an amazing future ahead of her,” she said.
“Living in a rural area has certainly been a huge challenge with the distance we need to travel, and the cost involved with that. The feeling of isolation, especially in the early years was very hard, however we got through the other side by sticking together.
“One of the hardest things was travelling away by myself as Sam had to stay at home to keep working and, as our family grew, he needed to stay at home to care for our other kids.”
Kerryn, Sam and their family are grateful for Hear and Say’s support and are some of our most enthusiastic Loud Shirt Day supporters – jumping back on board to fundraise for the fifth year in a row!
“Hear and Say have also been a huge support to our family, especially living in a rural area. The speech and language skills Emily has learnt from her specialists is something we will be forever grateful for. It has made a huge difference already, especially as Emily transitioned into mainstream school at the start of her Kindy year in 2017,” said Kerryn.
Not only do the family take part in Loud Shirt Day but were were awarded the title of Queensland’s Loudest Town competition for 2022 – raising almost $30,000, with plans to make 2023 their biggest year yet.
“We’re very excited for this year’s Loud Shirt Day, there will be lots of activities happening,” said Kerryn.
“For the first time in 2022, all gate entry fees from the three-day Ballyneety Rodeo were donated towards Aramac’s Loudest Town campaign, we had new custom-designed loud caps, and our Let’s get loud for Emmy fishing shirts. We’ll also hosted our annual BBQ breakfast on the main street of Aramac that featured another raffle,” she said.
“Loud Shirt Day is all about repaying the kindness we’ve experienced at Hear and Say by raising as much as we can. We hope that Aramac’s contribution can make the lives of other families affected by hearing loss that little bit easier.
“To anyone that is even considering getting involved in Loud Shirt Day – please just do it! It’s something that you would never regret. It’s not something that you have to do on your own either. Hear and Say are there every step of the way.”