COOPERSTOWN -- Noah Trong has never been one to shirk away from tall challenges.
Born deaf, the 15-year-old from the Otsego County town of Exeter has developed an ambitious Eagle Scout project aimed at raising public awareness regarding people with disabilities.
"People are not handicapped," he said. "They are handi-capable."
When his parents, Chris and Lynne Trong, took their first-born child home from Bassett Medical Center, they did not know their baby, Noah, was unable to hear.
Over the months that followed, they began to wonder why Noah appeared to panic when they placed him in his crib or when they put him in the car.
"It was as if we weren't there," Lynne Trong said.
What the parents could not have realized at that time was that their soothing and reassuring words to their baby were not being heard.
At about the time Noah was turning a year old, the Trongs asked that Noah's hearing be checked.
It was then that they learned he was born profoundly deaf. When he was 13 months old, he was enrolled in the Rome School for the Deaf.
There, Noah learned sign language. As a youngster, he also figured out, on his own, how to read lips by watching lip movements of people who were signing with their hands. His communication skills were improving. But while he was equipped with the a hearing aid, much of what people said to him still wasn't registering.
When Noah was about to enter first grade, his parents said they struggled with the decision over whether to keep him at a school for the deaf or enroll him in the Edmeston Central School District.
"He wanted to be mainstreamed," Lynne Trong said. "It was hard for us as parents because we knew he was safe at the Rome School for the Deaf. But he really wanted to do this. So we let a 7-year-old make his own decision. He made the right choice."
Three years ago, when he was 12, Noah became the first child patient of Dr. Elizabeth Redd, a member of the Otolaryngology Department at Bassett Medical Center, to receive a cochlear implant.
As a result of the surgery, his ability to hear improved dramatically.
"I opened a window and for the first time I could hear birds chirping," he recalled.
His father recalled that he and Noah went into the woods that year to go turkey hunting. "I remember Noah saying, 'Dad, is that what a gobble sounds like?'"
A member of Boy Scout Troop 47 of Springfield since he was in kindergarten, Noah has long had his sights set on receiving the coveted status of an Eagle Scout -- the highest attainable rank in the Boy Scouts of America.
This year he suggested developing a disability awareness presentation, and enlisted Redd and the Otolaryngology Department at Bassett to sponsor the program.
The forum will be held at 5:30 p.m. June 28 at Bassett's Clark Auditorium. Noah said he will offer a PowerPoint presentation. There will also be remarks from Redd and Dr. Joseph Dutkowsky, a pediatric orthopedist at Bassett and president of the American Academy for Cerebral Palsy and Developmental Medicine. In addition, there will be presentations from Dr. Brenda Wait, a primary care physician at Bassett; her son, Albert Wait, a youth with cerebral palsy, Katie Crouse of Springfield, who is also living with cerebral palsy; and Chelsea Nattrass, who sustained a disabling spinal cord injury as a teenager.
This summer, Noah is set to work as a counselor in training at Henderson Scout Camp on Crumhorn Mountain. In the time since he received his cochlear implant three years ago, a new waterproof version of the device has become available. Redd said that she looks forward to equipping Noah with one this summer so he can leave it on when he is swimming or out in the rain.
Lynne and Chris Trong, who are also parents to a 12-year-old daughter, Micaela, said the progress Noah has made over the years has been tremendously facilitated by Bassett's staff and the Otsego County Department of Health's early intervention program.
Noah has also given himself a boost by staying determined to reach his goals.
"When he was 7 years old," recalled Chris Trong, "Noah told us that whether they are hearing or deaf, he wanted to educate people."
As for what he hopes to accomplish, Noah said he wants to give families such as his own assurances that there are available services that can assist them. "If this helps just one person -- whatever the situation they are in," he said, "it will be worth doing."
If you have good news you'd like to share, call Assistant Editor Emily Popek at 432-1000 or (800) 721-1000, ext. 217; fax her at 432-5707; email her at email@example.com; or write to her at P.O. Box 250, Oneonta, NY 13820.
COOPERSTOWN -- Noah Trong has never been one to shirk away from tall challenges.
- Local News
State investigation seeks missing Bassett Rx pads
The state is investigating the possible theft of blank prescription pads from Bassett Medical Center, a spokeswoman for the hospital confirmed Monday.
Classes resume after threats at schools
School was opened on schedule at two area schools where Internet threats caused lockdowns Friday afternoon, two superintendents said Monday as the investigations continued.
Survey: Town residents cool to merger
More than half of Oneonta town residents responding to a survey oppose the idea of a merger with the city of Oneonta, the study summary said.â€©But a majority said "yes" to a partnership with the city to protect the reservoir and quality of drinking water. Two-thirds oppose drilling for natural gas, according to responses, the survey reported, and a majority supports commercial and industrial development in the town.
Lawmakers: Farm bill has 'devastating' mandates
Copes Corner Park gets new lease on life
The job description for town supervisor doesn't normally include mowing grass, but that's what Charlie Eckelmann found himself doing the other day over at Copes Corner Park in the hamlet of Gilbertsville.
School budget votes held today statewide|
Voters across the state go to the polls today to decide the fate of their local school budgets. In many cases, the selection of board of education candidates and propositions are on the ballot.
Blodgett plan review to continue at meeting
The Oneonta Planning Commission on Wednesday will continue its review of environmental impact documents submitted as part of a site plan application for a proposed student apartment complex on Blodgett Drive.
Area life coach wins state recognition
Heidi Friedman, a local life coach, has been awarded a statewide honor by The Arc, a 60-year-old national organization, and ANCOR, an associated organization.
- Monday, May 20, 2013
Fill each day, SUCO grads told
Two speakers at the State University College at Oneonta asked audiences to push the ``pause button'' on their lives Saturday.
Community comes together to build playground
The quote "If you build it, he will come" from the 1989 film "Field of Dreams" is often slightly altered to "If you build it, they will come."
Police to patrol schools after threats
Police will be present at public schools in Delhi and Walton today as a precaution in the aftermath of last week's online threats, school officials said Sunday.
Ramsaran remains in jail
Ganesh Ramsaran, accused of murdering his wife, remained in Chenango County jail Sunday on bail, authorities said.
Library, airport on council agenda
The Oneonta Common Council will consider the future of the Huntington Memorial Library and of the municipal airport, among other business, during a meeting Tuesday night.
- Saturday, May 18, 2013
Area medic recalls Afghan service
Today is Armed Forces Day, a day when the nation honors the contributions that military service members make toward ensuring its security.
Ramsaran faces murder charge
More than five months after his wife, Jennifer, mysteriously vanished, Ganesh "Remy" Ramsaran of New Berlin was jailed Friday after he was charged with second-degree murder in connection with her death.
Two schools lock down after threats
Threats at Delaware Academy and Walton Central schools Friday afternoon resulted in safety measures being taken. No incidents occurred, officials said, but the investigations are continuing.
Country Junction enjoys scent of success
Walking into Country Junction gift shop, customers are greeted with the scents and scenes of country life. Handmade wooden signs with down-home sayings are hung along the walls, and gingham cloth covers the tables.
Otsego Relay for Life marks 15 years* (corrected)
Progress seemed to be the theme of the 15th annual Cooperstown/Otsego County Relay For Life as events kicked off with an opening ceremony Friday night.
Ommegang to host bird-watching event
COOPERSTOWN -- Birdwatchers will be bonding over brunch and beer on June 2 at Brewery Ommegang.
- State investigation seeks missing Bassett Rx pads