"I’m only 11 years old, but I feel like I’m on the best journey ever!"
All About Me
Hi, I’m Braden from Fort Worth, Texas! I am 11-years-old and just finished 5th grade at Fort Worth Country Day School. I am creative and have LOTS of different hobbies including doing Rubiks cubes, drawing, plus watching AND making YouTube videos, but what I’m proudest of is raising money for people that can’t afford hearing aids.
Hearing My Way
I was diagnosed with sensorineural hearing loss at my newborn hearing screening and was fit with hearing aids when I was just 3 months old. I attend a mainstream elementary school where I use an FM system to help me in the classroom. When I can hear my teachers clearly, it really helps me focus and pay attention better. I always wished I could wear cool headphones like my friends, but now listening to music through the Bluetooth feature on my new Oticon OPN hearing aids is AWESOME !
One day, my dog Chewy got ahold of my second pair of hearing aids... and ate them! My parents sat me down for a talk about being more responsible—I didn’t realize how expensive hearing aids are! They explained that we were lucky to be able to afford another pair, but it made me realize there are people who are not able to afford them. I thought of one of my inspirations, Ellen DeGeneres, who is always giving back to people on her show, and thought, ‘WWED— What would Ellen do?’ Fifteen minutes later, I recorded my first of seven videos to help raise money on GoFundMe. I wear Oticon brand hearing aids and decided that the money raised would go to the Oticon Hearing Foundation that gives out hearing aids to audiologists who do mission trips around the world. My original goal was to raise $1,000. We have now raised over $75,000 with a new goal of $100,000!
Talk of the Town
I never expected that starting this fundraiser would lead me to The Ellen DeGeneres Show. Being on the show was the coolest experience I will probably ever have in my life! Ellen was just as awesome in person as she is on TV. Everyone made me feel so comfortable because I was SOOO nervous. I was so excited to meet my idol Ellen that I didn’t think getting money for my fundraiser was even an option. It was a great surprise, and I’ve been able to help even more people because of that.
Since then, I have had more opportunities to speak about my mission. I gave a TedxYouth talk called, “You Are Never Too Young to Make an Impact,” and my main message was to find your purpose and do something with it! Recently I presented in front of 7,000 kids at WE DAY Texas, a conference that celebrates kids who are involved in mission work not only locally, but globally. There, I met Spencer West, a man with no legs who climbed Mt. Everest on his hands! JUST AWESOME!
I had the opportunity to visit Oticon headquarters in Somerset, NJ. There, I met Dr. Kamal Elliott, an audiologist from Pennsylvania. She thought it was really important that I see firsthand what the funds I raised would do for people. We planned a trip to Guatemala for my birthday. I saw someone hear for the first time with their new hearing aids, and Dr. Elliott said, “That’s what we call a ‘hearing smile.’” It was the best birthday gift!
You Can, Too
I would encourage other kids that want to raise money to help people to Go For It! Your voices can be heard. Social media has been a huge help for me. I love to make videos, so that was an easy choice. Make sure that whatever you want to raise money for, you truly believe in. My mom always tells me, “As long as it comes from the heart, that’s what’s most important.”
The support of my family has been essential to my success. My dad is such a hard worker, and my mom supports my brother Christopher, 13, and me so much in being exactly who we are.
Find Your Purpose
I’ve been able to help people all over the world, and I’m constantly inspired by new people I meet all the time. My best advice is to pay attention to the world around you— you never know when you may be called to serve your purpose... it may even be your dog that leads you there.
Find Braden on Instagram @therandomdude_baker
Do you know a young person with hearing loss with a great story?
Be on our next cover! firstname.lastname@example.org