ST. GEORGE, UTAH—After running 250 miles over eight days through wind and cold, hail and snow, up steep mountain roads that reached nearly 8000 feet in altitude, a physically and emotionally spent Justin Osmond crossed the finish line in St. George on Saturday, May 9, arms raised in triumph.
There to meet the celebrated advocate for people with hearing loss was a group of well-wishers, including his wife, Kristi, and his aunt Marie Osmond, the famous singer.
Osmond’s grueling Run 4 Hearing, which began May 2 in Ephraim, UT, where he lives, drew nationwide coverage from news organizations and Internet sites, thus achieving his goal of building awareness and support for people with hearing loss.
Although the Osmond Family is best known for its performing talents, including Justin’s father, Merrill, lead singer of the popular Osmonds, and Donny and Marie, hearing loss also runs in the family. Like two of his uncles, Justin was born with severe-profound hearing loss, which inspired him to devote his career to helping others with that disability.
He is currently director of corporate relations for the Marion Downs Hearing Center and CEO and founder of the Olive Osmond Hearing Fund, named for his late grandmother. Previously, he was active for more than a decade with the Starkey Hearing Foundation.
CHILDREN WILL BENEFIT
Before his epic run, Osmond worked with the Washington County School District in Utah to identify 25 youths in need of new or upgraded hearing aids that could be provided through the Olive Osmond Hearing Fund. The foundation then worked with other groups and audiologists to raise the money to make the donation possible.
The Oticon Hearing Foundation, a co-sponsor of the Run 4 Hearing, announced that it would donate FM systems to the local school district to enable children in the classroom who wear hearing aids to hear their teacher better.
Kristi Osmond, who is COO of the Olive Osmond Hearing Fund, kept a running account of her husband’s run that allowed supporters to follow his battle against the unseasonably harsh conditions.
After embracing Kristi at the finish line, Justin tearfully told a local television reporter, “I’ve never had so much pain.” But, he said, “It was the most rewarding thing I’ve ever been through.”
At a celebration afterwards, he said, “There were many times I didn’t think I was going to make it. But I kept thinking of the kids and they kept me going.”
MaKenzie Lauder, director of the Olive Osmond Hearing Fund’s Here 2 Here program, said the organization receives applications from all over the country and tries to work with beneficiaries region by region. Since it was founded in 2010, the fund has provided thousands of hearing aids to people in need.
Information on donations to the fund is available at its web site.