It is not often that something so big happens in our lifetime that we want to shout it from the highest rooftop. For me, this happened on Tuesday, October 29. A good friend and his wife introduced me to the world of the +Starkey Hearing Foundation for the purposes of assisting my son, who is profoundly deaf. +Starkey Hearing was to hold a mission to help kids by giving them the latest and greatest technology in hearing devices.
At first, I was apprehensive to this idea; I am not one who accepts handouts or charity well. I prefer to be the giver, not the receiver. However, as I thought it through, I realized that here was a privately funded organization that was offering to change my son’s life. It is not some bloated bureaucracy, like our government, stealing funding from the hard work of others to fund their special interest. This is an honest, and well funded, private charity that receives funding because of what they do for children. People donate because they WANT to, not because they have to.
Let’s face it, my son was dealt a bad card in life; he was born with a hearing disability that has progressively gotten worse since birth. Don’t get me wrong, there are MUCH worse disabilities than a hearing loss; I know many people coping with much more difficult situations through no fault of their own. My son is a outgoing, fun loving, big hearted kid who wants nothing more than to be “normal” (whatever that may be). He longs for the days where no one looks at him and feels bad for him or teases him.
So, the big day was here; Will was bouncing off the walls for this life changing event. We knew that we had signed away all privacy by allowing Will and ourselves to be filmed, questioned, interviewed, pictured, etc. However, none of this mattered to him. He knew he was getting new hearing aids and a new start in life. Little did I know what this truly meant….
For a little background, kids tend to break stuff; and Will, being all boy (100%+) is really prone to this, especially hearing devices. He is like many boys, playing in the dirt, running around, sweating and playing sports non stop. His hearing aids take an absolute beating and it is expected. Over time, hearing aids stop working as well because they just get plugged up with crud. So, for the last 8 years, we have had to replace his hearing aids every 2-3 years.
Will was sized and fitted for his new hearing aids as we have went through MANY times before. He was also given a hearing test that confirmed that his hearing had decreased, as expected, over the past year. Now at 40% of normal hearing, Will struggles with the most basic interactions without his hearing devices.
Now, for the fun part, numerous members of the +Minnesota Vikings showed up to lift the kids’ (and parents’) spirits. Along with them, Paul Molitor of the +Minnesota Twins and Ben Leber also joined in for the fun. Will was thrilled to meet and talk to +Adrian Peterson, Greg Jennings, Carl Eller, +Chuck Foreman, Josh Freeman, Jerome Simpson, Greg Childs, and others. I extensively documented him getting his football and jersey autographed at the following location.
The best part is his hearing…for the first time in his life, he hears the S, SH, T, TH and many other sounds in language. For a child like him, this makes his life so much better. The impact of such a foundation cannot be measured. Sure, one can look at the prices of the equipment given, etc. But, how do we really put a value on a child being able to be “normal” again? No kid (or adult for that matter) wants to be viewed as different for their disability. Bill Austin and his team have worked tirelessly for 52 years to bring this type of change to children’s lives; one child at a time.
Not enough can be said for what Starkey Hearing Foundation does for children here in the United States as well as all over the world. I will never be able to repay them for the new lease on life they have given Will. However, I can be sure to let everyone I know hear about the great work they do. Their staff is incredible; each member caring for every child as if they were their own and making sure everyone is comfortable and enjoying their experience. They bent over backwards to take care of Will and the other kids. I also fully intend to volunteer my own time and resources to continuing their mission “so that every child may hear”. God Bless each and every member of this organization and those who dedicate their time and resources to this mission.
- Minnesota Vikings Players Working With Hearing Impaired Children (thevikingage.com)
- Lives Changed After Hearing ‘Can You Hear That’? (minnesota.cbslocal.com)
- Starkey Hearing Foundation Announces 13th Annual So the World May Hear Awards Gala Lineup (virtual-strategy.com)
- Starkey Hearing Technologies and Minnesota Vikings Encourage Fans to “Listen Carefully” (sys-con.com)