2014 Focus on People Winners & P. Lauritsen #2

Pictured from left to right are: Vako Gvelesiani, Deputy Susie Cambre, Oticon President Peer Lauritsen, Joyce Edmiston, and Susie Ternes, AuD.

The 2014 Oticon Focus on People Awards honors 12 individuals whose courage, vision, and commitment are helping to change the perception of what it means to have a hearing loss. Created by Oticon, Somerset, NJ, in 1997, the national awards program has brought well deserved recognition to more than 225 extraordinary people who demonstrate that hearing loss does not limit a person’s ability to live a full, productive, and even inspiring life.

“Our 2014 Oticon Focus on People Award winners have taken their unique circumstances and accomplished goals well beyond what many may have thought possible,” says Oticon President Peer Lauritsen.  “We are pleased to recognize their contributions to making the world a better place for others with hearing loss. They are truly role models for all.”

The 2014 award winners were recognized at a special awards ceremony at Oticon’s US headquarters on August 14, 2014, attended by hearing care professionals from across the United States. More than 10,000 votes were cast by people from across the country and around the world to help determine who among the 12 finalists would be the 2014 first, second, and third place winners in the Adult, Student, Practitioner, and Advocacy categories.

This year’s first place winners are:

Susie Cambre of Hammond, La (Adult Category)

Susie Cambre, who has a profound hearing loss, has served as a role model for many, even a US president. The Director of Elderly Services and Community Education for the Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff’s Office and the founder and former director of the Louisiana Hearing Dog Association, Susie has created more than 40 nationally award-winning safety and awareness programs.

Vako Gvelesiani of Brooklyn, NY (Student Category)

Vako Gvelesiani wears both his hearing aids and his dancing shoes with style.  The 14-year-old, who has moderate to severe hearing loss, has a deep-rooted love for dance and has made music and movement the center of his world. Vako has appeared in a music video for Michelle Obama’s Move Your Body Campaign and recently earned a coveted spot on the Brooklyn Nets Kids dance team.

Joyce Edmiston of Mount Joy, Penn (Advocacy Category)

Growing up with hearing loss, Joyce Edmiston lost many opportunities to interact with others, make friends, and advocate for herself.  Over time she gained the courage and wisdom to make her voice heard. Today, Joyce freely shares her hard-won knowledge as a vocal advocate for people with all degrees of hearing loss through her popular blog Xpressive HandZ.

Susie Ternes, AuD, of Wichita, Kan (Practitioner Category)

Growing up with a deaf sibling has given Susie Ternes a special insight into the day-to-day life of families of children with hearing loss. In her work at Via Christi Hospital and her numerous volunteer endeavors, Susie speaks from the heart with personal knowledge that enables the families of deaf and hard of hearing children to relate to and trust her wise counsel.

In addition to a $1000 prize, first place winners received a $1000 donation from Oticon to the non-profit organization of their choice. First place winners in the Adult, Student, and Advocacy categories also received a pair of advanced technology Oticon hearing instruments.

There are eight second and third place winners in the program’s four categories:


2nd Place – Anat Maytal (Forest Hills, NY)

3rd Place – Cheryl Machemer, MSN, RN, CCRN (Robesonia, Penn)


2nd Place – Sarah Ann Sabal (Stafford, Va)

3rd Place – McKenzie Blair-Griffith (Loganville, Ga)


2nd Place – Florence Innes (Sarasota, Fla)

3rd Place – Ed Ogiba (Sarasota, Fla)


2nd Place – Jerald Altman, MD (Paradise Valley, Ariz)

3rd Place – Erika Blanchard, CCC-A, F-AAA (Boise, Idaho)

To read the stories of all of the Oticon Focus on People Awards winners, visit www.oticonusa.com.

Source: Oticon