Kari Olson seemed to have it all going for her.
She and her husband had bought their first house in Arlington Heights. Their children were starting school for the first time. And she was getting involved in the community, serving on the village's youth commission.
Then she began to lose her hearing, eventually going completely deaf.
But Olson, keynote speaker Thursday at the 31st annual Arlington Heights Mayor's Community Prayer Breakfast, said it was her faith and community that pulled her through that trying time.
"I had to think to myself, 'One day, if I want to hear again, if I continue to let bitterness take root in my heart or allow anger to control my pattern of thinking, now I have a bigger problem on my hands. Now I'm talking about a broken soul,'" said Olson, who is co-leader of Café Mom, a ministry to mothers at The Orchard Evangelical Free Church in Barrington. Her husband, Tom, is pastor there.
Speaking to a crowd of clergy, local political officials and business leaders at the DoubleTree hotel, Olson said the power of prayer was one of the "lessons in the silence" she learned.
After slowly losing her hearing between 2010 and 2014, Olson was able to regain it through two cochlear implants she received in 2015.
Olson says she couldn't have gotten through that tough time without the help of the people around her -- from her doctor and medical staff at Northwest Community Hospital, to church members who brought her family meals and offered to baby-sit.
She also thanked the Arlington Heights Elementary District 25 first grade class that made cards for her after surgery, and a person she met at the library who happened to be secretary of a local cochlear implant support group.
"I quickly realized this is not a private struggle. Our lives affect and influence each other," she told the audience Thursday. "Your work matters. It matters to me. It mattered to my family.
"We cannot do this alone. We're not meant to."
The event Thursday morning also included prayers and scripture readings from local pastors, as well as musical selections. It started as an offshoot to the national breakfast that began in 1953 under President Dwight D. Eisenhower.