Aspiring chef doesn’t let hearing loss slow him down. Now he’s up for an award.

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VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. -- When you have big dreams, you're not going to let anything hold you back. That's how Daniel Carey feels about his hearing loss.

WTKR reports that the recent Salem High School grad says he's headed to the Art Institute of Virginia Beach to pursue a career in culinary arts. From there, he's hoping to further his education at Johnson & Wales University and eventually work on a cruise ship and even in Las Vegas.

Carey's going to do it all with hearing aids. The 19-year-old has had them since he was eight or nine years old, he says.

"I've had MRSA, I've had a few tubes, I've had reconstruction of my ear," said Carey of the issues that led to hearing loss. "It's not too hard (without my hearing aids) if I can see the person. I can kind of read their lips and understand what they're going for most of the time. If I'm not looking at the person, it can be a little troublesome."

That's why Carey says he always makes sure to wear his hearing aids to work at a local Ynot Italian.

From pizza at work to steak and fish at home, Carey cooks it all.

Now, the company that makes his hearing aids, Oticon, has named him a finalist for their Focus on People Awards, which go to those "helping to change perceptions of what it means to have a hearing loss," according to their website.

The winner gets $1,000 and a new pair of hearing aids, which Carey says can cost in the thousands of dollars.

“It would mean a lot (to win) just because I’ve never won anything or done anything this big," he said. "(The prize money) would definitely go to school. That would pretty much do all the textbooks and basic stuff and to have new hearing aids on top of that would be great.”

The award winners will be determined by voting, which closes September 26. A winner of the awards will be announced in November.

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