Never Too Far From My Heart… or My Ears

Six years ago, I had one of the most beloved teachers at OLSH tearfully pull me aside as he explained to me that his hearing aids are no longer working for him. He did not have the $14,000 for him to buy the necessary new hearing aids. His plight moved me, but I wasn’t sure how I could help him more. It left a profound impact on me and I was emotional the remainder of the day… I had to do SOMETHING, but what?

When I came home from school that day, I told my mom about the conversation and she told me if I wanted to, I could give my newest, strongest pair of hearing aids to him. Sure, they were powder blue, but we sent him a message saying “Is Blue Your Color?”. He responded that evening very touched by the gesture. I’m not sure the reality of the situation hit him until I marched into homeroom early the following morning to present him with two sets of hearing aids. One was the newest, top of the line hearing aids and the other were a few years older. He continues using the powder blue hearing aids to help himself hear, but unfortunately he had to stop teaching. That crushed me. It felt like it was “too little, too late”.

It bothers me that adults over the age of 21 in most states can’t afford to get the basic hearing aid equipment they need to function in life. Kids’ hearing matters and my hearing matters, but adults’ hearing doesn’t matter?! This man served our country in the Navy, served decades as a school teacher and now, that’s it? How many other Mr. RJB’s are out there in the world but don’t have access to proper hearing aid equipment. I want to help change that. I don’t know how I’m going to, but I want to help change it. I WILL figure it out. I helped one person, but if I could help 4 more, that would be amazing!

Mr. RJB’s “ears” are never far from my heart and his very hearing aids were once on my ears for between 6 and 12 months. It’s just something I can’t let go… Never Far From My Ears. I’ve been there. It’s a part of my story. And I won’t deny that…

Former hearing aid user turned bilateral cochlear implant recipient… but the blue ears stayed with my amazing teacher long into retirement.

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