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another good page with Deaf/HoH Role Models!
Deaf Gymnast Reaps Medals
From the newsroom of The Arizona Republic, Wednesday, June 16, 1999 ....
By Jim McCurdy
Special for The Republic
When Kimberly Brand wakes up each morning, it's because her bed is shaking.
But that's by design.
Brand, a 16-year-old junior at Mountain Pointe High School, was born with a
profound loss of hearing in both ears. But unlike many who cannot hear, she
speaks extremely well.
Brand, who uses a special alarm clock that rattles her bed to wake her up, is a
top-notch gymnast who will be competing in this week's Grand Canyon State Games.
She specializes in the floor exercise, overcoming the challenge of synchronizing
her routine to the music that accompanies it.
"It's very difficult to do, especially on the floor exercise," said
Meredith Redding, Brand's instructor at American Gymnastics Center in Chandler.
"She knows how to count down the music and knows when to start the next
part of her routine. She excels at this."
Brand waits for a starter to signal her when the music begins. She times her
routine to the beat, anticipating as the tune progresses.
"It's very, very hard," Brand said. "I have to do it a lot of
times to get the beat right. Sometimes, I end up going late."
Since she began competing in gymnastics four years ago, Brand hasn't missed a
beat. Last year, she won four gold medals and a bronze in her first appearance
at the Grand Canyon State Games. She will compete again Sunday when the
gymnastics portion of the Games is staged at Southwest Gymnastics in Tempe.
Brand, who maintains a 3.85 grade-point average, won golds in the floor, balance
beam, bars and all-around and a bronze in the vault last year. She said her
focus this year was to enjoy the competition.
"Kimberly has always said, 'If someone else can do it, so can I,' "
Kimberly's mom, Carol, said. "She has always put her mind forward to
whatever she needs to get done. I am so proud of her for even attempting to do
"She doesn't even realize she has to do more than the other girls.
Sometimes I'm too proud, and I talk about her, and she gets embarrassed."
Brand also must overcome a difficulty with equilibrium on the balance beam,
since an individual's balance system originates in the inner ear. Sometimes
after practice, she comes home and trains for an extra hour on the beam to get
her routine down.
She's the same way in the classroom.
Normally a straight-A student, Brand recently received her first B. She has
decided to take a summer class to improve her grade.
"It's perfection, really," her mom said.
To be a good gymnast, everything must be precise. But Brand has never lost
"I have never really considered myself as deaf or anything," said
Brand, who wears a neon-purple hearing aid. "I try not to make it into a
disability. I love hearing every noise I can. I don't take hearing so much for
granted. I cherish everything."
It's difficult, though. She has been deprived of pleasures that many take for
granted. Like talking on the telephone or hearing the television.
When she goes to the movies with her friends, she often misses out on the
important elements of the movie.
But if it's one she really enjoys, she waits until it comes out on video and
then rents it for home use, where she can use captioning to gain a better
"When Titanic came out on video, she just loved it," Carol said.
"She was just overwhelmed by it. I watched it four times in three
Captioning wasn't always easy for Brand. She had difficulties learning to read.
That had a direct effect on her ability to write, but she has overcome those
struggles. She has had poems published in literary publications.
"We have rules," Carol began. "She can never use her deafness as
an excuse. What we have to do as parents is look at our child as an individual.
We use the word "deaf.' It's not a dirty word."
Without her hearing aid, Brand can hear nothing. With it, she's able to
distinguish sounds. And with the help of her mom, she has learned how to
"I feel very uncomfortable leaving her in the house at night because she
can't hear if something is going on," Carol said. "She's got to
connect herself to the rest of the world."
On the mat, Brand has connected nicely. She hopes to compete on the collegiate
level and even has aspirations of coaching.
"She's a very beautiful, graceful gymnast," Redding said. "She's
an extremely hard worker. I do sit back in amazement at times. She makes
things look so easy out there.
"A lot of times, I just kind of forget she can't hear. Being hearing
impaired isn't going to stop her from what she's trying to accomplish.
"From the first time I met her, she's just a very sweet person. She has
respect for anybody. She's just a great person."
-distributed by USA-L News