Larry Burns, GM vice president for Research and Development and Planning, is showing that personal challenges often create the strongest leaders.
Burns, who lost his hearing eight years ago, is the first recipient of the National Campaign for Hearing Health's Leadership Award, which honors a businessperson who takes an active role in promoting hearing health in the business world and general public. Burns enthusiasm, dedication and passion for increasing awareness of hearing health issues were recently lauded at the First Annual "Celebration of Hearing Health Gala" in New York City.
"I have been extremely fortunate to be surrounded by caring, supportive family, friends and colleagues determined to help me reach my personal and professional goals," Burns said. "And I am equally fortunate to be in a position where I can help bring about an awareness and understanding of hearing loss, the leading cause of disability in America."
Hearing loss affects one in three Americans, or approximately 95 million people, by age 65.
In the years since his hearing loss, Burns, who communicates with the help of a cochlear implant, has become an active proponent for hearing health and hearing loss prevention. In addition to speaking out about living with a hearing disorder, he serves on both the advisory board for The University of Michigan's Center for Hearing Disorders and on the board of directors for the Deafness Research Foundation in Washington, D.C. Burns recently headed a drive by GM and the United Auto Workers to raise a $1 million gift for new research at U-M's Kresge Hearing Research Institute, a world-renowned research affiliate.
"I don't think anyone has taken such an active role in promoting hearing health as Larry," said Elizabeth Thorp, director of the National Campaign for Hearing Health. "He has dealt with his hearing loss in such a candid and lighthearted manner. It really made him stand apart from the candidates for this award."
In addition to the awards ceremony, the gala featured a raffle to raise money for hearing loss research. GM donated a 2002 Envoy that raised more than $50,000. Overall, the event raised almost $350,000 for the Deafness Research Foundation, which privately funds research and public education related to hearing loss and sponsors the National Campaign for Hearing Health.
edited by Sandy Smith ([email protected])