World-famous, Christian runner and ex-congressman Jim Ryun is now promoting hearing awareness, something he knows about first-hand.
Back in the 1960s, when Ryun became the world's fastest runner, it seemed everyone knew his name. But no one knew his secret: he was half-deaf.
"At the age of 5, I lost half my hearing as the result of measles," Ryun said. "I went through all my education system sitting up close to the front of the class, looking over someone else's shoulders for notes, asking questions."
Although winning races was tough, Ryun found television interviews even tougher. He worried the world would discover he couldn't hear the questions well.
Ryan won an Olympic Silver Medal, graced magazines and eventually entered politics, winning a Kansas seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. He is quick to point out, however, that fame was unsatisfying and he only found true happiness as a Christian.
Ryun is dedicated to helping people spiritually and physically, by operating Christian running camps, and educating those, who like himself, suffer from hearing loss. Of the more than 30 million Americans with hearing loss, only 6 million wear hearing aids.
Ryun says people should stop making excuses and see an audiologist.
"One of the things I have noticed through the years is that men are the most reluctant to go in because they don't want someone to know they've got a hearing loss. Well hey man, this is no longer a problem because (the hearing aid is) invisible," Ryun said.
The newest type of hearing aid is water resistant. It's inserted deep into the ear canal and stays put for four months. Since it's closer to the eardrum than conventional hearing aids, the sound quality is better.
"You can sleep in them, shower in them, run in them, you can exercise in them," Ryun said.
Just like computer and cell phone technology, hearing aid technology advances rapidly. The new hearing aids have built-in measures to keep pace.
"Where every 120 days, if there's a manufacturer update you can get that update almost instantly. So you'd be constantly moving along with the technology as it advances, and that's a big deal because they're able to do things with the computer chip and battery life," Ryun said.
For Ryun, hearing well allows him to fulfill his life's purpose.
"I'm able to, when I talk to people, share the Lord or when I'm speaking in a large setting, and I'm interacting with people, hear what I wasn't able to hear before," he said, "and so that really does help me in my Christian witness along the way and I'm grateful for that."
For more information about the hearing device described in this story, log onto www.lyrichearing.com
*Originally published August 24, 2009