"It got to the point where I couldn't hear most things. Babies crying, leaves moving, people saying my name when I'm walking across campus," said Ricker.
The 29 year old has endured eight brain surgeries. Some made her hearing better, but as an adult Amber still cannot hear the sounds she says many people take for granted.
"It makes life pretty difficult. You feel pretty isolated, pretty alone," she said.
Ricker received her first pair of hearing aids from the Miracle-Ear Foundation when she was in third grade.
"I cried. Life just completely changed," she recalled.
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She eventually became the national spokesperson for the non-profit organization that help low-income people. Ricker made it her life's work to help others like herself, but as time went on her hearing again began to fade.
"I asked her if she was still wearing hearing aids today, and she said she wasn't for the last several years because she couldn't afford them," said Jenni Hargraves, Executive Director for the Miracle-Ear Foundation.
Hargraves reconnected with Ricker through social media and set up Ricker with a new pair of free hearing aids.
Her face lit up Wednesday afternoon inside the Miracle-Ear office in Smithfield when they were turned on for the first time.
"Holy smokes!" she laughed.
Ricker is now looking forward to getting back to work teaching visually impaired students. She is working on her second master's degree and one day hopes to write children's books about what it feels like to hear sound for the first time.
"I don't think any words are sufficient to show gratitude in the difference it's going to make in my everyday life," she said.
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