EFFINGHAM, Ill., (WCIA) — Dozens of people gathered in Effingham on Saturday to play corn hole, enjoy barbeque and raise awareness for a good cause — hearing loss.
“When you first put hearing aids on somebody that hasn’t heard or has heard and their hearing has declined, when you put hearing aids and turn them on, it’s an unbelievable experience,” Nora Stewart, Hearing the Call’s founder, said.
Hearing the Call travels around the world to provide people with hearing devices. Stewart recently traveled to Africa with the group.
Disabled hearing loss affects 466 million people across the globe. 34 million of those people are children. Spencer Patton’s 8-year-old son Bruer is one of them.
Patton is an MLB pitcher, also teaming up with St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright and his nonprofit, Big League Impact.
“My son lost about 70-80% of his hearing in his right ear, and he now wears a hearing aid,” Patton said.
Bruer has unilateral hearing loss. His family wasn’t part of a community centered around disabled hearing when Bruer was first diagnosed two years ago, but after being connected with Stewart, he and his family got more involved.
“There’s so much need, how can we begin to address this overwhelming need?” Stewart said.
To start addressing it, people of all ages, amateurs and professionals, gathered near Lake Sara for a corn hole tournament. It’s one way to get community members involved.
Jeremy Fraizer plays corn hole professionally in the American Corn Hole League. He said Sunday’s tournament was different from what he’s used to.
“Most of the time we’re just trying to, win and do our very best. We’re still going to try to do that today, but that’s not really the main focus,” he said.
His efforts were aimed at supporting Hearing the Call.
Stewart said she’s thankful for people like him who came out. As well as the Patton family, to share their first-hand experience.
“When you help someone hear better, tomorrow is gonna be better than the day before when they weren’t hearing better,” she said.
Patton has traveled the world for baseball and people have supported him both at his games and on TV. But, when he’s not on the mound, he said he’s still receiving support. His community is going to bat for his son.
“My wife and I believe in the power of community. It can move mountains and do great things,” he said.
With the money raised, Stewart said they will be able to purchase more hearing aids and equipment, as well as training for technicians. She hopes to start a university, teaching people to become audiologists. One day, she wants to create scholarships for the program as well.
On Monday, Oct. 17, a new law took effect, making hearing aids available over the counter, online and without a prescription. Many of the devices are more affordable than prescription ones before. Many of the OTC devices are intended for adults with mild to moderate hearing loss, helping millions.
To support Healing the Call, visit their website.