The HearStrong Foundation Announces its First International HearStrong Champion

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English rugby star Mat Gilbert is the only deaf professional rugby player in the U.K.

Mat Gilbert of Bath Rugby

Mat...shows others with hearing loss that when determination meets passion-anything is possible.

The HearStrong Foundation has added a second professional athlete to its roster of HearStrong Champions, rugby star Mat Gilbert.

The 27-year-old flanker for Bath Rugby in England was born with degenerative hearing loss that culminated in deafness when he was just five.

“My family had me tested for a hearing loss and I was fitted with (hearing) aids straight away,” said Mat.

Not one to be held back, Mat worked hard to pursue his passions; namely, rugby. Known for his work ethic and sense of humor, Mat is determined to be known for his skills on the pitch and doesn't want any special treatment because of his hearing aids.

“Being a professional (sportsman), I feel that it is a part of my job to be a role model and inspire others,” said Mat.

As the cornerstone of the foundation, which is fueled by the dedication of EarQ providers, HearStrong Champions are the men, women and children who acknowledged their hearing loss, sought solutions, experience their lives in the fullest and inspire others with hearing loss to take control of their hearing health.

“Mat is the epitome of a HearStrong Champion,” said Ed Keller, president of The HearStrong Foundation. “He refused to let his hearing loss keep him from realizing his goal of playing professional rugby and shows others with hearing loss that when determination meets passion—anything is possible.”

More than 280 million people worldwide live with hearing loss, including 38 million Americans. For many, occupational factors such as working in loud environments, the risk of repeated head injuries and stress can contribute to a higher incidence of impairment than in the general population. Left untreated, hearing loss can inhibit social interaction and a person’s ability to perform daily activities, which can lead to withdrawal, isolation, depression and increased instance of heart disease. Yet, only about 20 percent of people with hearing loss actually use a hearing device.

With champions like Mat, The HearStrong Foundation will change that view once and for all.
To learn more, contact info(at)hearstrong(dot)org.

About HearStrong:

The HearStrong Foundation strives to recognize the accomplishments of those who have overcome hearing loss and live their lives to the fullest. Headquartered in Syracuse, NY, the foundation is a world-wide advocate for hearing loss awareness, education and support. For more information about the foundation, or to nominate a HearStrong Champion, please visit

Contact: info(at)hearstrong(dot)org    
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