As we near the final month of our 20th Anniversary Celebration, it is time to introduce you to another Patient Hero. Maverick, a 16-year-old year-old sophomore at Altus High School in southwestern Oklahoma, and his family have shown their gratitude over many years by helping raise awareness and hosting events to raise funds that they donate to Hearts for Hearing.
Maverick tells us he doesn’t know how to compare himself to his hearing friends because he feels he is the same. When a stranger asks him about his technology, he tells them he was born deaf, that he has cochlear implants, and he needs the processors (they see and are usually asking about) to be able to hear. Maverick admits, “There have been very few times when someone was less than kind, and although it might have hurt a bit, I view those times as opportunities to teach me life lessons.” He adds, “Friends may ask a few questions, but we quickly move on to normal conversations and friend stuff … and that’s it.”
Maverick’s journey began in his first few days of life. He did not pass his newborn hearing screen in the hospital and after follow-up testing, he was diagnosed with profound hearing loss. Their specialist, Dr. Mark Wood, referred Mom (Lisa) and Dad (Kerrick), to Hearts for Hearing. Mom says, “We did not even know at that time that learning to listen and talk would be a possibility for him … we trusted our Hearts for Hearing team completely … and believe fully that Maverick would not have been successful without our Audiologist, Jessica, and our Listening and Spoken Language Specialist, Wendy.”
Maverick excels in school. He is a straight A student who is always listed on the Superintendent’s Honor Roll. An athlete, he has played on his school’s basketball team for many years and more recently joined the school’s swim team. Maverick hasn’t made education plans beyond high school yet however he is considering enrolling in an aviation mechanic program at a nearby college he would attend concurrently during his junior and senior years of high school. Maverick says his family is important to him and so is Jesus. He is active in his church youth group, and when he is not studying or competing in sports competitions, he likes a little downtime and playing Fortnite.
Many of you may recognize Maverick’s name – or his family’s – as they have appeared in Hearts for Hearing’s social media feed many times over the years. Mom recalls the reason their family is so committed to giving back, “In the beginning, we received a set of hearing aids for Maverick to use at no cost from Hearts for Hearing. When he received his cochlear implant, we were told we could donate the hearing aids back for someone else to potentially use.”
Lisa adds, “That is when we decided to do more to help others who were in the same shoes as we had been. We first went door-to-door asking for donations, then I decided we should host events that would raise money. First, we hosted a “New EARS Rock” Party for grown-ups on New Year’s Eve that featured an 80’s music cover band. Next, we did “One EARie Night” on Halloween. Both events were great, but I felt we could raise more money if we included kids. First, we tried a Mummy/Son Dance the next Halloween. Because I own and operate a dance studio, I was able to also promote quilt and blanket raffles, and we even sold pies to let our dance students throw pies at my face (or someone’s). However, we wanted our events to raise more. So, we decided to try a Daddy/Daughter Dance to benefit Hearts for Hearing and it was very successful. It has become an annual event that more than 1,000 people across western Oklahoma look forward to attending. Last year, we raised and donated $20,000. Over the last 15 years, we’ve raised more than $125,000. To us, it is important and a way we can show our gratitude to Hearts for Hearing and help other families too.”
Hearts for Hearing is extremely grateful for the Hunter Family for their support over many years. The awareness they helped create and the money they donated have made a significant difference for many families over many years. Thank you – and we are so proud of Maverick.
To children with hearing loss, Maverick says “Don’t worry about anyone else’s opinions.”
And to parents and families of children with hearing loss, his mom and dad say, “Maverick’s story has been successful thanks to Hearts for Hearing. Listen to your audiologist and speech therapist. Follow their suggestions. Have faith in them and pray. While the diagnosis can feel devastating, there is hope. The thought of knowing that aside from the surgery and speech therapy, the rest will be up to you can be daunting. Especially new parents, you thought you would be worried about when to feed your baby, or you wonder if you’ll someday have to pay for braces … you worry about even being a good mom or dad. The equipment you will be handed will seem like a disassembled computer – and it kind of is. But you will learn it and Hearts for Hearing will be there for you too. You’ll be surprised at what you are able to do when it is for your kids. Your story will also help others someday. Your story can be one of hopes and miracles … just like ours.”
Hearts for Hearing was founded in 2003 with a mission of providing hearing technology and speech therapy services at no out-of-pocket costs to families with children who were born deaf. 20 years later, we are still teaching babies and children born deaf to listen and talk. Our services have expanded to include adult hearing care with offices in Oklahoma City, Tulsa, and Shawnee. Our team of professionals has grown from our original three people to 117 now. Hearts for Hearing continues to provide the first set of hearing technology and therapy to children at no out-of-pocket costs to families, and now includes Newborn Hearing Screen services, major research initiatives, Eyes Open Ears On programming, and its own 3D ear mold lab.