Donor stories

Read about some extraordinary ways that our donors, volunteers and supporters have gone above and beyond to support ATA's mission to cure tinnitus.

Quick jump to:

Tennis Star Jennifer Capriati and Her Family: Committed to a Cure

Jose Cassella: Bringing Tinnitus to the Little and Big Screen

On the Fast Track to a Tinnitus Cure

Playing Music to Advance ATA's Mission

Turning $1,000 Into $8,000 for ATA-Funded Research

A Niece Races for a Tinnitus Cure


Tennis star, Jennifer Capriati, and Her Family: Committed to a Cure

"Nothing in life prepared me for the experience of tinnitus. Five years ago, after having hip replacement surgery, all of a sudden I had a loud ringing in my ear that would not go away. My doctors told me, 'You have tinnitus, and there is no cure for it.'

You know what I mean when I say that tinnitus affects everything in one’s life.You know how those first months of living with tinnitus are. No words can adequately explain the agony and confusion.

Tinnitus was extremely difficult to deal with in the beginning. But with the American Tinnitus Association’s help, and the right management tools, I’m learning to push my tinnitus into the background – at least on most days. I have tried to change my perceptions of my tinnitus – I started to think of it as different types of music in my ear, or I would even say to myself that it was angels singing. Whatever it took to put myself in a better frame of mind. I never realized how valuable silence was until it was taken away from me.

ATA cares deeply and is determined to bring silence back into our lives. But they can’t do that without our help. Will you help me in this important fight? My daughter, Jennifer, was the number one ranked women’s tennis player in the world, but even she did not do it on her own. She had the talent and drive to succeed – as well as the love and support of her family and some of the best coaching available. We need to think of the search for a cure in the same way. We are the rising stars and ATA is the loving family who provides support. What we need most are those professionals that fill in the rest of the story – the researchers. This can only be done with increased funding!

ATA’s work is critical to finding a cure for tinnitus. Its committed staff and volunteers need and deserve our help. The world’s best researchers are very optimistic that a cure is on the horizon! An article that I recently read described how some brain scans can now actually see where the sound is coming from in the brain. My initial reaction was simply one word, “Wow.” It is reports like these that make me hopeful, while at the same time drive home how important ATA’s efforts are in the fight to cure tinnitus.

The future is in our hands. Will we be satisfied with under-funded efforts, making a cure possible in only in the next generation or two? I say NO! The American Tinnitus Association knows what needs to be done now, and it is in our power to make it happen. Let’s take action together. Please join me in making a very generous donation to ATA so that we are doing what we can to bring back silence in our lifetime.

Please give generously in the knowledge that you are making a special contribution to create a better life for yourself and for the millions upon millions counting on ATA to make a difference. Help us hit an ace against tinnitus and win the fight – Game, Set and Match!

Thank you so very much.



Denise Capriati
Tinnitus sufferer and mother of Jennifer Capriati"

My mom is an amazing person, and she’s always been one who enjoys life. I cannot accept that she will suffer from tinnitus for the rest of her life - there has to be a cure! We need the top scientists on board trying to find a cure. And this requires funding for research. That is why we are helping the ATA.” - Jennifer Capriati

Jose Cassella: Bringing Tinnitus to the Little and Big Screen

Director Jose Zambrano Cassella, tinnitus sufferer and ATA advocate, uses his passion for filmmaking to help place awareness of the American Tinnitus Association and tinnitus as a medical condition in the mainstream media. His very creative public service announcement, “TINNITUS – Can you hear that?” warns music lovers about the dangers of noise exposure and reinforces that protecting your hearing is not “uncool.” The popular PSA has received over 115,000 views and generated 822 text responses on alone! The 2008 DVD of Cassella’s horror movie, “Second Coming,” features a character with tinnitus and includes Cassella’s PSA as a special bonus feature.

We owe Jose a debt of gratitude – most of the videos on ATA’s Web site, and YouTube Channel are courtesy of Jose’s time and talents. We would not have the ability to provide personal video messages, like the ones you can view on our Web site, without his dedication to curing tinnitus. You can be sure that you will be seeing more from Jose in the years to come!

On the Fast Track to a Tinnitus Cure

Steve Wright, a U.S. Army veteran from Michigan, acquired his tinnitus from five years of military service and has had it now for 15 years. “I understand completely what people are going through, living day in and day out with this condition,” Wright said. “[My tinnitus] has put a soft spot in my heart for those who are suffering, particularly the brave young men and women returning from Iraq and Afghanistan who will live with this for the rest of their lives if we do not find a cure. The work that ATA is doing is imperative to fulfilling that mission.” Wright co-owns several race cars that compete throughout theSteve Wright's Racecar Midwest. Because Wright believes so strongly in our mission, he proposed that ATA consider putting our logo on one of his cars for the 2009 racing season (see right). With the ATA logo strategically placed on the hood of the vehicle, fans in the stands would have a bird’s eye-view! He also suggested that, in addition to the car, our logo be part of the driver’s racing attire and appear on the trailer they use to tow the car from race to race.

Eager to help, Wright also wanted to pass out ATA membership materials and earplugs to fans at the track. ATA agreed to work with Wright and his team for the 2009 racing season. Now that the season is over, we are proud to announce that “our” car won three races and “our” driver, Ben Raber, enjoyed time in the Winner’s Circle with ATA’s logo proudly displayed on the chest of his racing jacket.

ATA owes a big thanks to Wright for his drive and initiative and for his personal efforts toward curing tinnitus.

Playing Music to Advance ATA's Mission

Roland DeCastro is a singer, songwriter and guitarist with his own recording company, Walk Thru Productins. He lives in New Jersey and is a strong ATA advocate. In January 2009, DeCastro preformed at the first annual benefit concert hosted by the South New Jersey Tinnitus Support Group. The event raised nearly $2,500 for ATA, and a new event was born! Since then, Roland has organized local acts for the Tinnitus Awareness benefit concert, and it has moved from his church to the World Cafe Live in Philadelphia.

We give Roland a standing ovation for his efforts! By sharing his own passion for music, he successfully helped a cause important to his heart.

Turning $1,000 into $8,000 for ATA-Funded Research

Phil Morton isn’t a magician. But when he found a way to turn his $1,000 donation to ATA into an $8,000 gift, it seemed like magic.

How did he do it? Phil took advantage of a generous, three-for-one gift-matching program offered through his employer, Oregon-based Gaylord Industries. Their parent company, ITW (Illinois Tool Works), sponsors the match.

Guitarist Phil Morton, far right, and his 60s-era band, the Tempests

By donating $1,000 through his employer’s program, Phil turned his gift into $4,000 for ATA. But it didn’t end there. Phil’s donation supported Donna Brown's Mount Rainier climb, which was matched dollar for dollar by an anonymous donor. As if by magic, Phil’s $4,000 instantly became a whopping $8,000 for ATA’s research program.

Phil’s nimble donation is the latest of the innumerable contributions this 62-year-old Portlander has made to ATA since he began as a volunteer back in the early ‘80s. That was shortly after he developed acute tinnitus while performing with his popular rock ‘n’ roll band, the Tempests. Since then, he’s had to cope with constant ringing in both ears that ended his band-playing days and severely limited his lifestyle.

A lifelong music lover, Phil can’t attend concerts, play music or even listen to it. Tinnitus affects his job and limits his favorite hobby – carpentry.

Like most tinnitus sufferers, Phil is frustrated that there is no cure for  the condition. That’s why he’s so passionate about ATA and its mission to advance tinnitus research and find that cure. Phil spent 21 years on ATA’s Board of Directors, including two terms as board chair. The first non-scientist to join the board, Phil ended his board service in June 2007.

Phil says he will continue to donate to ATA and its cause, and he urges others to do the same. “Without funds, researchers won’t find a cure,” he says. “And donating to ATA is a way to help other people who have tinnitus. It’s been almost therapeutic to think I’ve helped people get help or prevented someone from getting tinnitus.”

You can join Phil in his quest to end “ringing in the ears” by joining, renewing or generously giving to ATA.

A Niece Races for a Tinnitus Cure

Caitlin Connors signed up for the 2008 Philadelphia Independence Triathlon, and dedicated her race to her aunt who suffers with tinnitus. Previous to this event, she had never competed in a triathlon before, had no experience in competitive swimming and had never owned a road bike. Caitlin wanted to push herself to see if she could finish the triathlon, while raising money to increase awareness of tinnitus at the same time. Caitlin is so committed to this cause because an aunt very dear to her suffers with severe tinnitus.

After a weekend trip to Miami in February 2006, where a screeching fire alarm went off in their hotel, Caitlin’s aunt acquired tinnitus and sudden sensoneural hearing loss (SSHL). Caitlin's aunt lost 70 percent of her hearing up to 4000 KHz .

Caitlin’s aunt tried for an entire year to successfully treat her hearing and tinnitus without any improvement. Initially, she was unable to sleep without sleeping aids; she couldn't concentrate, work, socialize or be in noisy environments. She endured numerous visits to specialists and medication trials. She also tried alternative treatment methods, such as acupuncture, massage and herbs, to no avail.

It has now been more than two years and Caitlin says that her aunt has accepted her condition and adapted her lifestyle. She now tries “tuning out" her tinnitus so it doesn't overtake her life, but she continues to suffer from severe hearing loss and constant ringing in her head and left ear. Her life is forever changed.

Caitlin dedicated her race to her aunt and rasied over $5,000 toward the fight to cure tinnitus! To gear up for the race, she swam 1,500 meters once a week, ran for 30 minutes every day and biked more than 40 miles each week. She and her aunt believe that tinnitus research is on the right track and that someday soon this debilitating ringing can be stopped. You can help by contributing in honor of Caitlin’s race to cure tinnitus, too.

The American Tinnitus Association is very proud to have an individual such as Caitlin dedicate her race to helping her aunt and the millions of others suffering with tinnitus. Go Caitlin!!!