Brittany Huber Memorial Fund
Parents create a Foundation fund in their daughter’s memory to help other hearing impaired kids not be limited by their handicap
Imagine being told your toddler is profoundly deaf.
You have hopes and dreams and plans for your child’s future. Do those change?
For the parents of Brittany Huber, this change was never an option.
“When you get news that your child is handicapped, you either have to change you dreams and your motivation, or you have to redouble your efforts,” said her father, Dr. Mike Huber. “We redoubled our efforts. Brittany worked hard. We worked hard.”
Brittany’s family helped her push through her impairment to see a world with no limits. With the establishment of the Brittany Huber Memorial Fund with The Community Foundation of South Alabama, hundreds of children in the region will receive similar motivation to live a life like their hearing counterparts.
“We didn’t raise her to be special, we raised her so she would be like everybody else,” Huber said.
Brittany pursued a life of faith, love, creativity and strength.
Five days before her May 3, 2014 wedding day, she was killed in a horrific one-car accident that also left her fiancé, John Redman, temporarily in a coma. Brittany was just 24.
The accident that claimed her life isn’t the story of her life. For someone less than a quarter-century old, Brittany had overcome a lifetime of adversity and impairment to become a thriving, talented young woman.
Born on Halloween in 1989, Brittany was just 1½ when she was diagnosed with profound neural sensory hearing loss.
“It was a struggle to start with,” Mike Huber said. “That’s part of the reason we wanted to help hearing impaired people. When she was diagnosed I was in medical school and hearing aids aren’t covered by insurance policies. I had to go borrow money on student loans to buy her hearing aids and her transmitters. All that cost and nobody steps up to help you with it.”
Throughout her life the expensive hearing aids had to be upgraded every four years or so. The financial challenge was just one of the many the Huber family faced as Brittany grew.
During her early school years, the family would take everything she did in school each day and go over it again one-on-one with her as a way to help her comprehend on a greater level what was being communicated verbally in the classroom.
“We debated actually moving,” Mike Huber said. “We researched schools for the deaf. We went to St. Louis and looked at the two schools that were there. They were probably the two best schools at the time that were reasonable. Eventually we decided that instead of going there we kind of copied their system and brought it with us. We got the school to work with it and work with us.”
Brittany had to learn to hear by reading lips, but her hearing aids also allowed for wireless microphones to transmit what teachers were saying to her.
“It was like a one-on-one radio station between her and the teacher,” said Mike Huber. “They still tell stories about the times teachers would go out in the hallway and Brittany would hear their conversations. It had a range of about 30-40 yards.”
As her capacity to understand hearing people became greater, Brittany became more and more involved with after-school activities – basketball, dance, gymnastics and cheerleading – making the St. Paul’s Episcopal School varsity cheerleading squad as a freshman.
She also discovered a love of art that came to encompass who she was. Described as “always an artistic child,” Brittany took advanced art classes during her time as a student at St. Paul’s, reveling in how well she excelled. She kept going in college and started doing her own paintings.
“Her visual skills were so much better than most of ours because she could see so much detail that you and I don’t pay attention to,” said Mike Huber. “You don’t think about it, but for hearing impaired people, the simplest things are very hard. Have you ever tried to watch a movie and read the captions at the same time? It’s hard. The only way she watched TV was with captions. That’s a hard skill. Your eyes are everything. Her visual skills and perceptive skills were so detailed. She was able to translate that into her art.”
The order of service from Brittany’s May 2, 2014 memorial included a self-descriptive narrative that she had written that spoke to her skills as an artist.
It reads, in part, “I never let my disability hold me back. In fact, the older I became, the more I realized that being deaf is what has shaped me into the artist that I am today. By being deaf, my visual senses are heightened and I have learned to be more aware of my surroundings.”
As the Huber family continues to grieve the loss of their daughter, the Brittany Huber Memorial Foundation gives them a way to give back to families who may be facing the same struggles they did.
“What we really hope is that we’ll be able to identify people who have hearing impaired kids that have the same needs as Brittany did,” Mike Huber said. “We can help them to excel and be what they can be. If they need hearing aids, if they need speech therapy, if they need extra tutoring and teaching in the classroom setting, we can help them get what they need. We want to help them be all that they can be, so they won’t be limited by their handicap. We don’t want parents to feel like their child is limited.”
At the time of her death, Brittany worked as a paraprofessional at City Park Elementary School in Dalton, Georgia, where John Redman still lives and works as an assistant coach at Dalton State College.
Like the Hubers, you can start a fund for the causes most important to you. For more information, call Rebecca Byrne, President/CEO, at 251.438.5591.