PHOTO PROVIDED BY STEPH MARTINEZ
Dalton senior Ava Martinez, who began the nonprofit “How We Hear,” continues to raise money for scholarships and to purchase equipment to help fellow students.
DALTON Typically at this time of the year, supporters of Ava Martinez’s nonprofit organization, “How We Hear,” are putting her annual pulled pork fundraising event on their calendars.
Besides a yummy meal, and a chance to get together, businesses donate items to be raffled, so last year, the growing event raised $19,500.
The dinner has been put on hold this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. But just like the active Dalton High senior, fundraising hasn’t stopped. And the need is greater now than ever, according to www.howwehear.org. Restrictions and face coverings are creating a challenging environment to learn, especially when some students rely on being able to watch lips move to process what the speaker is saying.
Throughout September – and, really, anytime year-round – the organization continues to accept donations through the website at www.howwehear.org, or checks may be mailed to 130 Lake Drive, Dalton, OH 44618. Donations are tax-deductible.
Martinez was diagnosed with auditory processing disorder when she was a child. According to kidshealth.org, APD affects about 5 percent of school-aged children, and while there is no known cure, speech-language therapy and assistive listening devices can help.
Since she was 12 years old, Martinez began speaking at public events to raise awareness and educate the public. She has helped teachers and other students by sharing tips and techniques that she has developed and have worked for her over the years. She also has kept busy fundraising to buy iPads and other pieces of equipment to help students – as well as offer college scholarships to graduates from Dalton and other area high schools who are pursuing careers in audiology or education.
Martinez started fundraising off small and began selling candy and bracelets she made. This year would have been the fourth year for the pulled pork fundraiser, which was at the Dalton Elementary & Middle School Commons area last year. Her parents, Carlos and Steph, sisters Elliana and Matea, and other family members and friends help to make the event a success.
Martinez has said she feels she is fulfilling her mission of gaining attention for APD and helping to make life a little easier for other students.
People can learn more about the disorder, how to help, and can hear Martinez’s inspiring story on her website. A group on Facebook with information and photos also is available, which Facebook users can join for updates: “How We Hear (by Ava Martinez).”