SAINT PAUL, Minn., Aug. 15 Kevin McHale is one of five board members to start the Help Me Hear Foundation ("HMH"), a non-profit organization incorporated in Saint Paul, Minnesota. McHale will also act as the spokesperson. HMH was created to gift cochlear implants to impoverished deaf children who would otherwise never be able to obtain one. Dr. William House, the "true" inventor of the cochlear implant, also sits on the Board of Directors.
While the burden of deafness on an individual of any age is substantial, the burden on infants and developing children is debilitating. The first three years of life are considered the "critical period" of normal speech development. Children who cannot hear sounds during this critical period experience deficits in speech development and academic achievement.
A deaf child who is given a cochlear implant is given the opportunity to hear sounds, which in turn, affords them the opportunity to learn how to communicate orally just as a hearing child does. Being able to communicate orally with the hearing world will allow these deaf children a chance to lead a "normal" life. In fact, most people who meet a 10 year old child who was given a cochlear implant at age 1 or 1 1/2, would likely be surprised to learn the child was born deaf.
In the United States, the real cost of a cochlear implant, required implant surgery, and follow-up rehab, ranges from $50,000 to $100,000. HMH, however, will buy a cochlear implant, locate an experienced surgeon willing to donate services, and coordinate the needed follow-up therapy all for just $7,000 per child.
Because of the prohibitive cost, it is estimated that only 1% of the world's deaf population will ever receive a cochlear implant. HMH hopes to change that statistic by raising funds to provide impoverished deaf children with cochlear implants.
When asked why he supports such an organization McHale responded, "Because every child deserves a chance to hear. I love the fact that the goal of this organization is to create independent, productive people. It's a small, one time, investment that will have a lifetime of benefits. The impact will be felt not only by the children, but, by the families of these kids. I'm just happy to be apart of it."
Help Me Hear Foundation
Rochelle (Shelly) Amann,
SOURCE HELP ME HEAR FOUNDATION