It's a gift most of us take for granted, but it's something one local woman has lived without her entire life, until now; her hearing.
After several surgeries and complications, 26-year old Marika Maris is finally able to hear thanks to a cochlear implant. She's a dancer, a model, a cheerleader--and at first glance you would never know the enormous struggle she's endured.
She dances to the beat of a different drum--only thing is, she could never hear it. Twenty-six -year old Marika Maris was born deaf and has been living in silence for all these years--but it's never held her back.
"You have to prove people wrong, that deaf people can do anything" said Marika in sign language.
Her interpreter still assists Marika in communicating with people, but that may be changing soon. Marika recently underwent cochlear implant surgery last September--and by December she was able to hear.
"It's beautiful. There's so much, I feel like I'm flying in the clouds, I'm so happy."
Marika's mom Despo couldn't be happier either. "As a parent, it's very hard to see your child struggling, and she hides it very well and covers it very well. No one really knows what she goes through, but we're happy for her."
Marika describes the feeling like that of a newborn baby. She's learning how to identify sounds and translate them into words.
"It's hard, but I'm not going to give up, it's what I want to do". She's passionately following her dreams and it's something her disability never got in the way of. Marika still uses sign language while she adapts to the cochlear implant. It's a device that corresponds with a micro-chip in her brain that taps into her brain waves and allows her to interpret sound.
"All of you really don't want to know--but you judge fast. But I'd like to give people the opportunity to know and to learn." Marika loves modeling, music, dancing, and pageantry, and she's currently in cosmetology school. She said she believes everyone deserves the chance to feel beautiful.
Doctors said it will take at least two years for Marika to acquire the speech skills necessary to verbally communicate.