Karen Putz is a mom, international speaker, and Passion Mentor/Test Facilitator. She runs Ageless Passions, a business that provides writing, speaking and coaching services. Karen specializes in helping others unwrap their passion and create more joy, fun, and adventure in their lives. She also writes for the Chicago Tribune Local and has two blogs of her own: A Deaf Mom Shares Her World and Deaf and Hard of Hearing People at Work.
Karen was born with normal hearing and grew up hard of hearing. She became deaf from a fall while barefoot water skiing as a teen, as she took a hard fall and instantly went from hard of hearing to deaf. Karen abandoned the sport of barefoot water skiing and took up volleyball; she began playing volleyball in deaf tournaments with her husband across the United States. Karen and her husband went on to have three children, all three children lost their hearing when they were very young.
Karen has been featured on the TODAY Show, CNN, O magazine, MORE magazine, espnW, AARP, and the Chicago Tribune. She is also the founder and past President of Illinois Hands & Voice and is the Co-Coordinator of Deaf and Hard of Hearing Infusion. Karen is the author of multiple books, including The Parenting Journey; Raising Deaf and Hard of Hearing Children and The Passionate Lives of Deaf and Hard of Hearing People.
At the age of 44, Karen put her feet back on the water and skied competitively for four years. She has trained with the top barefoot water skiers in the world. Karen now has learned to barefoot ski forwards, backwards, and on one foot. Her remarkable comeback story has now led Karen on a quest to barefoot water ski in all 50 states.
Interviewed by our Different & Able President and Founder, Alexandra Nicklas, Karen talks about her water-skiing injury, which activated a dormant gene that caused her to lose her hearing. They also discuss what led Karen to eventually find her way back into the water and what inspires her to write and mentor. Karen also shares advice to those who have/had to confront obstacles in their lives and how others can tap into their passions. Karen states, “I believe we all have it within us to create a life of joy, purpose, and meaning. And live passionately, of course!”