Whether we like to admit it or not, we are all guilty of taking something for granted in life. If you woke up this morning to the sound of your alarm clock, hit snooze five times and finally got up with two minutes to spare, consider yourself lucky not only because you weren’t late for work, but because you have the ability to hear. The times when you take your dog for a walk and have Led Zeppelin on in your headphones or when you throw yourself a dance party in your living room to the tune of Rihanna’s “Diamonds” (yes, I’m giving myself away)…thank your lucky stars that you can hear the music. Can you imagine what life would be like if you ever lost the ability to hear your favorite song, communicate over the phone, or had to read lips when talking to friends or family? Sadly, “over 48 million Americans (or nearly one in five) age 12 and older experience hearing loss severe enough to hinder communication.” (Starkey)
According to the CDC (Center for Disease Control), it is estimated “that the lifetime costs for all people with hearing loss who were born in 2000 will total $2.1 billion” ( they did not include other expenses, such as hospital outpatient visits, sign language interpreters, and family out-of-pocket expenses. The actual economic costs of hearing loss, therefore, will be even higher). The cost of hearing loss can be astronomical for anyone regardless of their income, but especially those on a fixed income or in poverty. Starkey Hearing Foundation mission teamed up with top celebrities and athletes (including country music singer Garth Brooks, New York Yankees skipper Joe Girardi, former first daughter, Barbara Pierce Bush and athletes like AJ Green and the NFL’s first deaf offensive player Derrick Coleman of the Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks) at Yankee Stadium, and help fit more than 100 patients from the age of four to 49 with free customized hearing aids as part of their commitment in giving one million hearing aid devices to those in need as part of the Clinton Global Initiative.
Singer Garth Brooks was eager to help Starkey owner Bill Austin fit children and adults with customized hearing aids. He stated “When you talk about a strong team, anybody at Starkey makes a strong team. These people have got it together. I’m lucky enough that my children haven’t been through any struggles like that. I can’t imagine what that’s like for a parent as well.”
The NFL’s first hearing impaired offensive lineman, Derrick Coleman of the Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks wanted to be a part of the event to encourage youth to not use their disability as a crutch in life. He went on to say “I went through all the pain, the crying and the excitement- I went through all that. I know that other people have. The fact that I’m here and I didn’t make any excuses for me or anything like that, my parents didn’t let me was a blessing. That’s why I like talking to the kids, meeting them and just letting them know I’ve been through it.”
“The funny thing is when I first heard about Starkey, even before I had the hearing aids…I knew that Bill would always go and give hearing aids out, and I always wanted to be a part of that.” NFL’s first deaf offensive player, Derrick Coleman of the Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks