When basketball legend Kobe Bryant played his last NBA game in April, afterwards, in a press conference, he thanked all his haters. He explained that if it hadn’t been for all those folks in the media who had constantly degraded him over the years, he would never have succeeded as he did. Amazingly, Bryant had learned to turn adversity into a positive.

And so it is with comedienne Kathy Buckley. Against all odds, she managed to use the strife in her life to her benefit. As well, she is determined to use it to benefit many other people.This time around, Buckley is helping youngsters find their voice through comedy, as they take to the stage in “No Limits Comedy Hour” at The Ice House Comedy Club in Pasadena, Calif.

It’s a unique opportunity for students from the non-profit organization No Limits to perform live at an iconic Southern California comedy venue. Their performances mix laughter with a message -- one filled with enormous hope and empowerment.

Help for hearing-impaired children

For more than a decade, Buckley has been dedicated to working with Michelle Christie, founder and executive director of No Limits-For Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Children. Its mission is to teach deaf children the skills to succeed in school and in life through the organization’s national theater group and educational centers. Over the years, No Limits has directly helped children to succeed academically, and in the process, learn to overcome the specific challenges of being hearing-impaired.

Facing adversity

As America’s first hearing-impaired comic, Buckley has had a lot of first-hand experience to draw upon. Her own hearing-loss was not diagnosed until she was eight years old. During childhood, many people had thought she had a mental deficiency, as in cases where a person has a very low IQ (Intelligence Quotient).

There was an obvious stigma they attached to her.Unable to hear the people around her, Buckley quickly learned how to read lips, all the while, desperately trying to fit in. Yet, the message she often received from others was: “You can’t. You won’t. You’re ugly. You’re broken. You’re stupid.”

As well, Buckley also faced other difficulties.

She had had aseptic meningitis at age five; during childhood, she was sexually abused. As a young adult she had two serious car accidents. Then one day, while sunbathing on a beach, she was run over by a jeep, and her body was crushed. During the next few years, she suffered from debilitating seizures. Later, she was stricken with malignant cancer.

Triumph through comedy

But now, when Buckley talks about her past, she’ll tell you: “All my challenges have been a blessing put on me…There’s a reason I went through everything I did, so I could be a tool to help others.”Yet, it’s not only the hearing-impaired children that Buckley aims to assist. She eagerly provides parents with significant insight about what it’s like to be hearing-impaired, and she provides practical advice on how to be advocates for their children.As a prolific motivational speaker, writer, comedienne, and actress, Buckley’s story is one of lasting inspiration. With comedy, she continues to pass it on.

“No Limits Comedy Hour” will be held on Saturday, July 30, 2016, at 2 p.m., at The Ice House Comedy Club, 24 N. Mentor Avenue, Pasadena 91106.