On June 10, 2014 I was invited to attend a ceremony at Starkey World Headquarters in Eden Prairie, MN. I traveled the near 3 hours to the headquarters, I was full of nerves, and excitement since I had no idea what I was to expect. I was presented a HearStrong Award. It was a wonderful honor and experience. I hope I can get into words what I experienced and what transpired on that wonderful day.
HearStrong is the nonprofit that is held by the company EarQ. It honors individuals that have overcome hearing loss and decide to do something about it. The way they heard about me is they happened upon one of my blog posts on the SWC Blog. I was given a gold medal and a framed certificate from two great gentlemen from EarQ and from Tani Austin from the Starkey Hearing Foundation. I was accompanied by my good friend Allison and my daughter Greta. It was an honor I will take seriously and keep advocating all I can. HearStrong asks you to take the challenge to be a Champion and bring attention to hearing loss and help make this stigma the that hearing loss affects all not just a certain generation. I do take this challenge and I hope to be kept accountable that I will continue to do so.
After a wonderful ceremony and pictures we were handed over to Starkey. I had no idea what the rest of our time there would be but I was told it would be worth it. We were told to drive to another building (huge complex) and they would take care of us. Well what I didn’t know and was a surprise is I was given a hearing test and given a new set of hearing aids and lots of fun gadgets to go with them. I was in shock, in no way was I expecting anything at all. It started out with a video of the inside of my ears. The neat part of this whole process was that my daughter and friend were with me and asking question and taking pictures of all of it. Greta wants to do a project on hearing loss and hearing aids for the county fair this year. I think she got lots of first hand info on Tuesday. I was then given a hearing test by a Starkey Audiologist. We were then treated to lunch. Anything we wanted at no cost to us. Another high point for my daughter, you can tell she is 11. Impressions and molds were made next again pictures and my daughter and friend were right there. They got to watch the whole process and ask any questions they wanted. In fact my daughter got to come home with a few ear molds that were made. They are now prized possessions. Now the waiting game started. We waited a few hours while custom made hearing aids for me. I was given XENO RIC with a custom earmold around the receiver. Much more powerful than my last pair. During the waiting period my daughter was able to have a private meeting with Tani Austin about the hearing missions the Starkey Hearing Foundation have done all over the world. Greta is inspired and would love to go on a mission with them someday. Who knows anything is possible.
Finally at 6pm my hearing aids were done. I was also given two additional items, one is the SurfLink Media which plugs into my TV and I can listen to the TV wirelessly directly into my hearing aids. Very cool item and having fun trying it out. I can even have the TV on mute and I can listen to it at a good level for me and not disrupt anyone else in the house. My other gadget is the SurfLink mobile. This is a remote I can use for my hearing aids I can change programs and change the volume. I can use it as a bluetooth for my phone so again the sound is wirelessly sent to the hearing aids and I don’t need to use the actual cell phone. The one feature that I think is the most fun is I can stream my iPod and listen to all my music through my hearing aids instead of taking them out and using earbuds and complaining the volume doesn’t go high enough.
It was a day I will never forget. I am still waiting to wake up from an incredible dream. I thank my friend, Allison, for taking 14 1/2 hours away from her family to be there with me to experience this once in a lifetime day. I thank my daughter, Greta, for being so grown up and asking questions and being engaged. Her project for the fair should be blue ribbon all the way. Most of all thank you all for reading my writing and keeping me accountable.