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Mar 4, 2011

Cochlear Celebration

Ahhhh, Celebration....How do I love thee, let me count the ways! :)  Seriously though, Cochlear Celebrations are counted among the highlights of my life.  I'll give you a little mini taste of Cochlear Celebration.

The opening event of every even is the Opening Social on the first evening.  Here you have people from all over the country gathering together and getting to know each other.  You meet people for the first time (as my friends Diane and Debra are doing at this table), socialize and get to know a little about each other.  It's great fun to start to build connections to others who are living the miracle of sound.

 The opening session of every Cochlear Celebration I've attended is begun by Chris Smith, the CEO of Cochlear Celebration.  I do enjoy the chance to hear from those who lead this great company.

Here is Jim Patrick speaking in the opening session.  Jim is one of my three heroes from Australia.  The cochlear implant was created by Dr. Graeme Clark in Australia.  Jim was his first employee and the engineering genius who created this marvelous miraculous machine I wear behind my ears.  The last hero is Rod Saunders, who has passed away.  He is the first cochlear implantee who tested this device for Dr. Clark and Jim.  I love getting a chance to sit and chat with my hero Jim in both of the Celebrations I've attended.  He's truly a humble man for someone who has done such great things.

Here is a view of what we see when we first walk into the opening sessions.  For me, waiting for Chris to get up and officially open, looking at this view up front is positively electrifying and exciting!  Let the fun begin! :)

Here I am with two of my favorite men at Cochlear Celebration.  On my right is Mark , one of the upper level managers at Cochlear from Texas.  He was the person who trained me to be a volunteer some years ago (when they used to fly volunteers to Colorado for training).  He was also the first person to be implanted bilaterally.  To my left is David!  David has one of those spirits about him that he is genuinely loved by all.  He too works for Cochlear.  He works in their shipping department in Colorado.  It's always fun to me to order batteries, filters or other parts for my cochlear implant, and then see a little smiley face and a signature from David, saying "Hi" to me!  I always hope he's the one that sends me whatever parts I'm ordering.  David is also the kind of man that is loved by all.  The kids at that are at Cochlear are genuinely drawn to him.  He is known for giving the best hugs around.  All the employees at of Cochlear truly ROCK!

Cochlear tends to spend an evening having a special event of some sort for those that volunteer.  Here I am sitting between two Linda's at a special happy hour type of event for the volunteers.  Linda who traveled with me from Utah, is in the foreground, and then Linda Day, another awesome Cochlear employee, who is the Volunteer manager from California is sitting right next to me.  On the other side of the table are two volunteers from Washington. 

You can count on Cochlear Celebration to have a great keynote speaker at the opening session.  Here we were fortunate to hear from Tom Sullivan, a blind singer/actor/author.  He spoke and sang to us.  It was truly touching and reminded us of our own miracle as we listened to him tell us how truly jealous of us he was.  He would give anything in his life to be able to see his wife, just to be able to see.  And here we all are able to hear.  He was inspiring and touching.  At one point the lights dimmed and he asked us to close our eyes as he took us through a morning run with him.  Of course we all had our eyes open to read CART, but the lights were dim and we went on a morning run.  It was astounding to see the world through his ears.  Sounds became even more precious as we experienced it through him.

 During his talk, Tom made the statement that I quickly got my phone out and took a picture of before it disappeared from CART.  I realized the instant he said it, how truly profound it was.  If you can't read it, click on the picture and it will enlarge so you can.  It helped me realize how much I have to focus on the here and now, the joys and potential of the here, rather than dwell on the past.
There is always an evening at Disney or a local attraction.  Hollywood Studios was closed down early on Saturday night.  We ate dinner on the streets of Hollywood studio.  After dinner, we walked to where the giant Mickey Mouse hat was lit up.  We watched as fireworks erupted from it.  Then we were able to ride the roller coaster and the Tower of Terror as many times as we wanted.  On the "streets" of Hollywood, near these rides, there was music, a street dance and entertainment.  Truly and enjoyable evening just for us!
Before we know it, the closing session arrives.  Chris Smith CEO shows us the joy of our time here when he bounds onto the stage in a feather boa with Mickey Mouse hands! :)  After his speech, we get the opportunity to be introduced to and hear from this year's Graeme Clark Scholarship winners.  A friend of mine from Utah was awarded this scholarship three years ago.  I hope someday to see another young many from Utah up on the stage with a scholarship.  His name is Chance (a hint to his parents if they're reading this!) :)  After the scholarship winners speak, we all wait for THE ANNOUNCEMENT!  Where will the next Cochlear Celebration be.

 Whoo Hoo!  February 2013, I'll be there in San Diego, celebrating once again.  The minute this announcement popped up on the screen, I snapped a picture and texted and emailed it to a couple of friends on my PDA, telling them I want to see them there with us at the next one and to start saving!

Another Celebration ends, and my dreams for the next Celebration begin anew!  Cochlear Celebration 2013, here I come! :)


cami said...

Sounds like a wonderful trip. Your post brought me to imagine the many individuals who's lives have Bern touched by these amazing implants. I'm so glad that you are able to go and be a part of this celebration. I love you tons, so glad to read your posts again

Ang said...

Ann I too am so glad to read your blog again. What fun to be able to keep in touch.

What a wonderful celebration Ann. It is so touching to read all bout the people behind the pictures and see what a great impact they have. What a fun place to celebrate too :-)

Ann said...

Love you too Cami and Ang. Yes, Celebration is truly a highlight. So many people have been touched with the gift of sound after years of deafness. It's truly joyous! And yes, they always plan those somewhere fun! :)

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