Bringing Music to Your Ears: Interview with Justin Osmond
Douglas L. Beck, AuD, spoke with Justin about The Children's Miracle Network, The Olive Osmond Hearing Fund, The Osmond Foundation, Bringing Music to your Ears, and his 250-mile run to benefit 25 kids, May 2–9, 2015.
Academy: Good morning, Justin! It's always a joy to speak with you.
Osmond: Hi, Doug. Always great to speak and catch up with you, too.
Academy: Thanks, Justin. Actually the last time you and I did an interview for the American Academy of Audiology was when your book, Hearing with My Heart, was released. I know you're working out pretty hard right now, as you've only got a month of training left before the 250-mile run to benefit the Olive Osmond Hearing Fund…but before we talk about that, please tell me a little about how it all started?
Osmond: Sure thing. As you recall, Doug, my grandmother is Olive Osmond, the matriarch of the Osmond family. And yes, I was her favorite grandchild! Her first two children were born deaf and after the second was born, her doctor told her not to have any more children! Luckily, she ignored them and had seven more children, which brought forth the Osmond Brothers and Donny/Marie.
Back in those days, the family lived on a small dairy farm in Utah with limited financial resources. So to raise money to buy the hearing aids needed for the two oldest boys, my grandparents encouraged my dad and uncles, and started a barbershop musical quartet. This is one of the untold and unknown stories of the Osmond family. From here, they went on to have a highly successful musical career.
However, one of the primary reasons on how it all got started was to raise money for hearing aids! As the momentum picked up, Olive helped establish The Osmond Foundation to provide resources and help for people who were deaf and hard of hearing. Over the years, the Osmond Foundation grew and is now known today as the Children's Miracle Network. They've raised over $5 billion and they do an outstanding job helping children with all sorts of medical needs domestically and internationally.
Academy: That's amazing! I had no idea the Children's Miracle Network started as the Osmond Foundation.
Osmond: Yes, it's an incredible story.
Academy: And so here we are two generations after Olive, and you're the only person of your generation in the Osmond family born with significant hearing loss?
Osmond: That's right. And before my grandmother, Olive, died in 2004, she and I were remarkably close. And so as a tribute to her, bringing it back full circle, I wanted to again raise money in her honor, to support children who are deaf and hard of hearing around the world.
Academy: And so you founded the Olive Osmond Hearing Fund?
Osmond: Yes. It was established in 2010 with the help of a lot of wonderful people and I feel it's important to carry her legacy forward, to honor her, and to do so while helping local children who are deaf and hard of hearing. Frankly, I believe Olive did what she felt was right in her heart. It's no different than what you and so many other wonderful audiologists and hearing aid dispensers currently do. That is, you work with people one-on-one to improve their quality of life and to help them thrive and accomplish all they can through the gift of hearing, speech, communication and understanding.
Academy: Thanks, Justin. And I want to mention that early on as a young boy, despite all the music in your family home, you were told not to waste your time trying to learn to play a musical instrument?
Osmond: Yes, that's right. While the outside world told me I couldn't do many things due to my profound hearing loss, I knew deep down that I could overcome any obstacle that came my way. I took on a courageous leap of faith, and went on to play the drums, violin, viola, and piano. And now, with the Olive Osmond's Hearing Fund's tagline, "Bringing Music to Your Ears," my goal is to inspire, motivate, and challenge deaf children around the world to become musically inclined and to use their other conductive senses to enjoy the beautiful music around them.
Academy: Fantastic! And so to facilitate fund raising for the Olive Osmond Hearing Fund, you've decided to run 250 miles to raise money to help 25 deaf kids? That sounds like 10 back-to-back marathons!
Osmond: Exactly, it is almost 10 marathons. This will be by far the biggest physical and mental challenge I've ever taken on. The run starts with a 5K run in my home town of Ephraim, Utah, on Saturday, May 2, 2015. So anyone who wants to participate can run or walk with me for the first 5K, and then I'll keep running across the state of Utah…about 32 miles a day (over an eight-day period) until May 9 when I cross the finish line in St. George, Utah.
Coincidentally enough, and as it turns out, I'll be running on my grandmother Olive's birthday, May 4, and then crossing the finish line on May 9, 11 years since the day she passed away. I didn't plan it this way, but it's become extra special and close to my heart, and gives me goose bumps the way it has all come together. May is also Better Hearing Month!
Academy: And, I should also mention that 100 percent of all proceeds goes to help the children, right?
Osmond: Yes. All the money goes to the Olive Osmond Hearing Fund, and the goal with this 250-mile run is to benefit 25 deaf children needing our hearing help, in honor of my grandmother Olive.
Academy: Thanks, Justin. I'm delighted to help sponsor you in this excellent pursuit, and I encourage my colleagues and friends to do the same. And I wish for you a speedy and pain-free 250 miles!
Osmond: Thanks, Doug. I'll look forward to our next chat!
Justin Osmond is the author of Hearing with My Heart and the son of Merrill Osmond, lead singer of the Osmond Brothers and nephew to Donny and Marie Osmond.
Douglas L. Beck, AuD, Board Certified in Audiology, is the Web content editor for the American Academy of Audiology and the director of public relations with Oticon, Inc.