Olympic Gold Medalist’s Christmas Wish is for Youngest Son to Receive Precious Gift of Hearing

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Olympic gold medalist’s Christmas wish is for her youngest son to receive the precious gift of hearing.

The screeching of bobsled blades careening over an icy mountain course and thunderous applause from thousands of fans throughout the world have become music to the ears of 2002 Olympic gold medalist Vonetta Flowers. This Christmas, Flowers, along with New Hope Publishers and her sponsors, would like to share precious sounds of life like these with one of her smallest, most adoring fans—her 3-year-old son Jorden.

Six months after Flowers and teammate Jill Bakken shocked the world with their unexpected victory in the 2-woman bobsled race—a victory that earned Flowers a place in history as the first person of African descent to win gold in the Winter Olympic Games—Vonetta gave birth prematurely to twin sons in August 2002. Jorden, who trailed his big brother Jaden by only two minutes, entered the world deaf.

“I think I am mentally tough, but there are some times when I break down and I cry,” said Vonetta in a recent USA Today story. “To think about Jorden and certain things he is really trying to tell me…It’s difficult at times,” she said about her son, who communicates primarily using 50 or 60 words in sign language.

The twists and turns on the road to Flowers’ 2002 Winter Olympic victory are chronicled in her recent autobiography with New Hope Publishers, titled Running on Ice: The Overcoming Faith of Vonetta Flowers. However, this latest chapter of her story is playing out this Christmas in Italy. The entire Flowers family has taken up temporary residence in Verona, Italy, during the intense season of training and competition that will determine who will be on the 2006 US Winter Olympics team. With only two competitions remaining before the Olympic team is announced, Flowers is ranked third in the World Cup standings with her new teammate Jean (Racine) Prahm, and they are favored to win a spot on the 2006 Winter Olympic Team.

On December 21—the day after Flowers’ final bobsled competition of the year—Jorden is scheduled to undergo an experimental procedure called auditory brainstem implant (ABI) in which 24 microelectrodes will be implanted in his brainstem. The procedure will allow him to hear using an external sound processor. Italian doctor Vittorio Colletti, the only surgeon in the world conducting the ABI, will perform the procedure. The cost is estimated at between $65,000 and $100,000. Full payment will be due upon his discharge from the hospital on Dec. 28. ABI is not an approved procedure in the US for children under 12, and therefore their medical insurance has declined coverage.

Because of an outpouring of concern from friends and sponsors who want to help Jorden hear for the first time, the Flowers have established the “I Can Hear Now!” Fund to help cover the costs of Jorden’s surgery. To contribute, please send donations to Jorden Flowers’ Medical Fund, I Can Hear Now, P.O Box 5275, Gainesville, FL 32627. For more information about Running on Ice: The Overcoming Faith of Vonetta Flowers, visit online at http://www.NewHopePublishers.com and http://www.VonettaFlowers.com.

“God brought me back into this sport for a reason, and this happened to Jorden for a reason,” said Flowers. “There might be another child out there who has to go through this, and hopefully our story will help someone else,” Vonetta said.

About New Hope Publishers

Representing more than 50 authors and more than 100 individual works, the mission of New Hope Publishers is to match the life messages of exceptional writers with the God-given gifts of women readers in order to equip women and families to grow in Christ and share His hope. New Hope Publishers is the general trade-publishing imprint for WMU, a woman’s missions auxiliary to the Southern Baptist Convention.

Media interested in covering the Flowers’ story and receiving press materials should contact Gregg Wooding, president, I AM PR public relations, (972) 567-7660 via cell, (972) 429-0724 office.

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