SAN ANTONIO, June 23, 2015 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Emma Rudkin knows from experience how tough it can be for a young person to have to wear hearing aids.

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That's exactly why this year's Miss San Antonio started the #ShowYourAids social media movement earlier this month, inviting fellow members of the deaf community to share pictures of their hearing aids.

"I started getting a lot of emails and text messages from high school and middle school students saying that they were being bullied, that they didn't want to wear their hearing aids, that they were ashamed of having the stigma of being deaf and the physical things that came along with that," Rudkin said.

"So, the idea behind #ShowYourAids," she continued, "was to create a movement where the deaf community can be proud, and they can realize that being different is the most beautiful thing about them."

The campaign began when a donor offered to give $20 per social media post to Aid The Silent, a non-profit started by 19-year-old Rudkin and her family to raise awareness and support for the deaf community.

"We had this donor wanting to give to Aid The Silent," Rudkin explained. "The idea was that every time someone took a picture or selfie with their hearing aids and used the #ShowYourAids hashtag, then 20 dollars was donated. Once it took off, it reached exponential heights. There were hundreds and hundreds of children and teens posting pictures."

Within days, the #ShowYourAids movement had traveled across America. It quickly exploded onto the international scene, prompting posts from Colombia, Italy and the United Kingdom.

But Rudkin wasn't ready to stop there. She started reaching out to celebrities and public figures, hoping to keep the movement going. That's when she heard back from the National Football League's first legally deaf offensive player, Derrick Coleman.

"We finally got a hold of [Coleman], and our donor said he'd give $500 for Derrick to post a picture," Rudkin smiled. "So, he posted, and he said he hoped it would help. Of course it helped!"

The #ShowYourAids campaign is still active, encouraging and empowering members of the deaf community globally.

Donations raised by Aid The Silent provide hearing aids to people who cannot afford them in addition to funding deaf education, ministry and research.

Anyone wishing to show support for the deaf community or Aid The Silent can still join in by visiting to make a donation, or by posting a picture with the hashtag #ShowYourAids.

For more information, contact:
Kathy Rudkin