The Wonderful Relationship Between Rion and PeopleGOOD RELATIONS ere’s Always a Reward Waiting When You Complete a ChallengeAt the age of two, she was diagnosed with progressive sensorineural hearing loss. She got her first Rionet hearing aid at the age of three. “For me, hearing aids are irreplaceable treasures,” says YUMIE, a professional bodyboarder and yoga instructor. “They support my life.” Rion has a sponsorship agreement with YUMIE and supports her vigorous pursuits.“There was a time when I couldn’t have expectations for the future due to my hearing, even with all the goals I’d set for myself. Looking back, I know I was blaming my hearing for not making a move. Reflecting on my past, realizing that things didn’t have to be that way, that I could succeed if I strive, motivated me.”YUMIE, now retired after accumulating an impressive record as a professional bodyboarder offers the Deaf Kids School bodyboard class for children with hearing impairment. She’s also a licensed yoga instructor and continues being involved in a wide range of activities.“I launched Deaf Kids School in the hopes of showing children the joy you can achieve from tackling a challenge. The first time a child succeeds in riding a wave after failing many, many times, you see their expression change dramatically. When I was small, being different from those around me made me feel awkward. But in the sea, when I felt the waves roll over my feet, I realized we were all equal. Differences in hearing don’t matter here among the waves. That’s when I decided to pursue a life in the world of bodyboarding. I can’t take the same path in life as those with normal hearing—I need to figure out a different approach as I move forward in my life in pursuit of my dreams. There’s always a reward waiting when you complete a challenge. That’s the lesson I learned from the sea that I want to pass on to children.”YUMIE has covered her hearing aids with colorful decorations to turn them into items with visual appeal and flair—not something to hide. She has a positive attitude towards everything and never forgets to enjoy life.“I became a professional bodyboarder and yoga instructor. Not being able to hear doesn’t keep you from pursuing challenges. When you take on new challenges, the disability becomes a part of your character, even a powerful weapon. My disability enhanced my powers of observation. To perceive how others feel, I don’t rely on sound but on the silent words from the depths of those around me. I plan to continue devoting time to realizing a world where such individual characteristics are widely appreciated.”In July of this year, Yumie participated in a bodyboarding competition for the first time in 14 years and won the championship brilliantly. Seeing her pushing her own limits gives people courage and hope. YUMIE’s pursuit of the next challenge will continue.YUMIE [Professional bodyboarder and yoga instructor]Part1Interview and photo by Yukiko Soda18YUMIEBorn in Tokyo in 1973. She met bodyboarding at the age of 18. In 2003, she passed the test required to become a professional. Since then, she’s entered competitions both in Japan and aboard. Achievements include placing 9th in INGLESPRO in Australia (2006) and 17th in the nals of the Pipeline in Hawaii (2007). She entered a sponsorship agreement with Rion in 2006. Since her retire-ment in 2007, she’s participated in various activities, including coaching young bodyboarders and energetically introducing her own experiences at lectures.