Olive Osmond is probably most commonly associated with her famous children, The Osmonds, however, Olive has another story, a story of commitment, compassion and love. Olive Osmond was blessed with nine children, two of whom are very special. Her oldest sons, Virl and Tom, were born with a hearing loss; Virl and Tom both being profoundly deaf.
“When I first found out, I was really lost. I looked around for help and there was none available. So I thought, well, attitude is the first thing that’s important. First of all, why did this happen to me? Who am I that the Lord would trust with souls like this who would need my help? I just gathered that there was someone else maybe who had more patience. But then this calm, peaceful feeling came over me and I thought, so here we go!” Olive Osmond
Virl and Tom were born during a time when very little was available to help parents of the deaf. However, their mother did find help. Not from doctors or clinics, but from divine providence, her family and from deep within herself. She reared her sons to be strong and independent.
“I tried to make each child feel that he was just as important as the next one and that everyone had a place and a responsibility. We tried not to cater to their limitations. We felt that this was just one of their tests in life. And everybody has a test in a different way.” Olive Osmond
“After I found out that my first two children were deaf, the doctors told me that I shouldn’t have any more children. And, oh, I just think what I would have missed if I had listened.” Olive Osmond
Olive Osmond didn’t listen and was blessed with 7 more children. They were raised on a small farm in poor circumstances. Olive could not afford hearing aids for her two oldest sons so she and her husband George came up with a fundraising plan. They gathered their 4 oldest sons that had no hearing loss (Alan, Wayne, Merrill, and Jay) and formed a barbershop quartet. They traveled around and performed at small civic/county fairs and other events to help raise funds so they could purchase hearing aids for their deaf brothers. This is how the Osmonds started their world-renowned entertainment careers which led to the “The Osmond Brothers”, “Donny and Marie” and the “Osmonds”
Because of her experience with finding no resources for parents and children living with a hearing loss, Olive established the Osmond Foundation, primarily set up to raise hearing health awareness and to provide for the needs of those living with a hearing loss. She envisioned a program that would encompass the needs of all those who seek a better understanding of the deaf and Hard-of-Hearing world. This program grew and became what is now known worldwide as the Childrens Miracle Network (CMN). CMN has generated more than 4 Billion dollars for childrens hospitals around the world, which helps over 17 million children every year.
“We started the Osmond Foundation because we felt there was a real need for a parent or deaf person who had no formal training or no place to turn or what to do. We wanted to create something that would be effective for us. One thing that’s necessary is to educate the public in how to understand the deaf community. I think this is the problem. So this is where I think Virl and Tom have a wonderful part to play as they perform on the stage with their brothers that children and kids in the world can overcome their limitations.” Olive Osmond
Olive’s original dream to help the deaf & hard-of-hearing has not quite yet been fulfilled. Justin Osmond, the only 2nd generation Osmond who inherited the deaf gene, was born with a 90% hearing loss. Because of his own experience of growing up in the musical Osmond family, Justin had a desire to help people around the world living with a hearing loss. Motivated by his desire to help Justin traveled the globe with the Starkey Hearing Foundation for 11 years providing the gift of hearing to thousands of children world-wide. Justin was very close to his grandmother Olive. Sharing her passion and dream to help deaf children around the world, Justin established the Olive Osmond Hearing Fund (OOHF) in honor of his Grandmother. Justin’s dream for the OOHF is to help carry Olive’s legacy and fulfill her life-long dream in providing the latest, up-to-date technology, education, and resources for the deaf and hard-of-hearing.