A few weeks ago my friend, Kalonda called me and told me that her daughter Corlena had
hearing loss. She hadn’t shared this before because she said she didn’t want her friends o be worried. She was going to meet with a specialist and 5 month old Corlena was going to have to get hearing aids. Immediately I began to cry. I felt sad for Corlena as well as Kalonda and her husband Cori. Even though Kalonda reassured me that all would be fine I could only imagine what challenges Corlena and her would have to endure in the future. When Kalonda and her family went to the Specialist she recorded Corlena’s reaction to her hearing aids. It was the opposite of what many of us would have thought and it transformed my pre-conceived notions about disabilities as a whole.


Corlena was excited and screamed as Kalonda and her grandmother spoke to her. At 5
months old, she was overjoyed to simply hear, something we probably take for granted.
She removed every ounce of sadness that anyone could have had. Despite this as a mother, Kalonda said finding out Corlena had hearing loss was not easy for her and Cori to accept. Kalonda and Cori are picture perfect couple and their wedding in 2012 was like an experience from a Disney’s fairy-tale. Cori is a Dean of Students at KIPP Academy in St. Louis and Kalonda is a noted choreographer and singer who operates R.O.C.C Academy a dance studio catering to lower-income kids that may not be able to afford the highly priced dance studios in St. Louis.

kalonda cori cloyd

She is a strong ambitious God fearing woman and has always been the rock for her friends so although I was surprised about her not telling me about Corlena’s complications I understood. After Corlena’s priceless reaction to hearing, Kalonda’s now more open about talking about what her family has been enduring. She is also beginning to advocate for parents of kids with disabilities who don’t qualify for state assistance but also may not be able to afford the medical expenses and treatment that their kids need.

corlena cloyd: baby's first time hearing

“Learning about Corlena’s hearing impairment was very difficult, The first thing you experience as a parent with a child with any form of disability or medical concern is DENIAL. When Corlena was born she was tested for hearing loss and she failed. Two months later we had to go back and she failed again. We then took her to an E.N.T doctor and he said her ear drums were clear so we assumed there was an error in the initial test. But after we took her back to the hospital she failed the test again and that’s when they made the diagnosis. We got the call on a Friday from her audiologist and he said she had permanent hearing loss in both ears. We really struggled with and contemplated what could have gone wrong. Now I’ve learned that you first have to accept whatever the results are. Trust in God and know that he has his hands all over your baby. Like many parents we were an emotional wreck on and off for a few weeks. Once we realized that the situation wasn’t going to change and accepted it, we began to see that we are blessed in the midst of it all. There are parents and children going through things much more difficult than us. Someone has it worse than our child. Someone is burying their child and someone has a child in the hospital that may not ever leave. Although Corlena struggles with hearing loss, she is able to walk, breath and speak. Once you accept what doctors have determined, ACT immediately. The longer you prolong medical assistance for your child’s diagnosis the harder you’ll make it for your child to succeed. There are many resources to assist families. Although we are not qualified to receive free assistance it has changed how we look at life and finances. Now saving for her future is a huge priority. The Missouri first step program takes care of Corlena’s hearing medical expenses until she turns three and after that you’re on your own. Hopefully through this we can help find ways to assist parents and like us that are caught in the middle. Outside of my family and friends, I would love other parents and people in general to begin to understand that having a disability doesn’t make you any different than anyone else. If you have a child with disabilities, i hope Corlena’s smile and laughter will encourage you. Now I see that God has turned our situation into a blessing. “- Kalonda Cloyd  To help Corlena go to Corlena’s page