Roaring Fork and Vail Valley, Colorado - Imagine a world filled with silence, being unable to share a laugh or conversations with family and friends. This is hearing loss, a silent disability that affects more than 31.5 million people each year in the U.S. Fortunately, about 95 percent of those suffering from hearing loss can be helped with the use of hearing aids, according to the American Speech Language Association.

Rocky Mountain Audiology and Dr. Daria Stakiw have teamed up to donate free hearing instruments to deserving persons in the community.

"This is our way of giving back, and a great opportunity to significantly change the life of someone living in a world of silence," says Dr. Stakiw. "I am honored to have the resources and the ability to make a difference and improve someone’s life. It's the best way I know how to give back to the community."

The Gift of Hearing program was available from December 1 – December 31, 2015. People from the community were able to submit an essay of 400 words or less, describing why you or someone you know would benefit from receiving a pair of hearing devices. A panel of independent judges will read the essays.

The winner of the Gift of Hearing program was selected based on the following:

  • Hearing Need
  • Financial Need
  • Opportunity to impact recipient’s life
  • Opportunity to impact the lives of people with whom they interact

Stay tuned for December 2016 for the chance to participate in the Gift of Hearing Program again.

Winners

Frank Nadell

Congratulations to our first winner of our "Gift of Hearing Program" for 2017 and the recipient of two new FREE hearing aids - Frank Nadell! He has been employed by the Carbondale Fire District for over 23 years and is involved in training, emergency medicine, CPR and rescue. He loves his job as a First Responder and we are so glad we are able to help him hear in the critical situations where communication challenges arise! We are so thrilled Frank can Hear Life again! Frank told us that his communication challenges became even more profound when he was called on to be the leader on emergency incidents. He was in charge on the fire ground to direct others to their assignments. Frank reported that when he wears his hearing aids, his entire world opened up! He said "it was as if the sun came up and turned the darkness into light. All that went by previously, as unheard became comprehensible."

Pam Dodge

Pam has lived in our Roaring Fork Valley since 1991 and works at Valley View Hospital - Callaway Young Cancer center. She knew she had a hearing loss for a while as she was finding it difficult to hear what people were saying in crowds. She resorted to smiling, nodding and laughing but it wasn't working. As a nurse at Valley View, she has direct patient contact and it is very important for her to hear her patients and colleagues. She is the proud mother of two sons. She is now wearing two brand new hearing aids and is able to hear the sounds of life again.

John Hanson

John Hanson is no stranger to hearing loss. At the age of 5 years old, he lost the hearing in his left ear. Recently, John was diagnosed with head and neck cancer that requires aggressive chemo and radiation, which has now decreased the hearing in his right ear. During this battle with cancer, John realized what is truly valuable and worth holding onto and that is FAMILY! He is so grateful to now be able to hear his family-which includes quiet conversations over coffee with his wife, sharing the thoughts of the day with his son and daughter in law, and most importantly hearing the pearls of laughter from his grandsons and now being able to answer life's question for them. John was fit with a new hearing aid and is able to fully partake in the everyday sounds of his family which has lead to a fuller and happier life.

Stanley

Stanley Bernal, was nominated by one of his friends in the Vail Valley. He is currently employed full time at the Avon Home Depot in Customer service and is responsible for assisting customers at the counter and on the phone. This has been quite challenging for him as he was frequently asking for repetition. Many of his customers were not aware of his hearing loss and were mistreating him due to his lack of hearing. He noticed the most of his difficulty in background noise.

In January 2016, Stanley was fit with new free of charge, Resound hearing aids that are 100% digital and automatic, but also have the choice of having manual volume and program memories. Stanley instantly noticed a difference in the clarity of his own voice and others. He is now able to hear better on the telephone at work and at home, meetings or group situations and one -on-one at the customer service station.

Connie

Connie Flanagan, was nominated by a fellow co worker in the Garfield RE-2 school district as one of the kindest, gentlest souls she knows. Connie is the health clerk at Cactus Valley Elementary where she is responsible for the health and well being of many youngsters. She reported it is difficult to hear the children’s voices as well as in poor acoustic environments like tile flooring in the schools. Connie also revealed difficulty in group situations. Connie had actually been diagnosed with hearing loss previously but due to the high cost of hearing instruments was never able to obtain them.

Connie was fit with new free Phonak hearing aids in January. Connie has written us a card that said, "I am so grateful for my new hearing aids. What a difference you have made in my every day life. I don't know how I can ever thank you enough."

Jay

Jay Hicks, was nominated by his sister for the Gift of Hearing. Jay has been exposed to extensive noise exposure as a carpenter. He now drives a truck for work and has difficulty hearing even in quiet environments. Jay was previously diagnosed with hearing loss and was a candidate for hearing aids, although was never financially able to afford them.

Jay was fit with his no charge, Resound behind the ear hearing aids. These receiver-in-the-ear products, are cosmetic in size yet able to still fit the severe to profound hearing loss range for patients. Jay has noticed improvement while talking on the telephone, hearing the radio in his truck, and now able to hold conversations even in ambient noise environments. Jay wrote, "Thank you to Rocky Mountain Audiology and Resound for letting me hear the sounds of life again. My life, including my work have become much easier."

Katherine

Katherine Hood, is an 81 year old female who currently lives in senior housing in Eagle, CO. She was nominated for the Gift of Hearing by her daughter. She reported difficulty hearing the telephone ring, TV and especially at senior lunches. She feels as though she is becoming more socially isolated due to her inability to hear her friends and family, which is also frustrating.

Katherine was fit with new Unitron receiver in the canal hearing aids, in both ears with the newest North platform technology. Katherine immediately noticed how much easier communication was with myself and her daughter. As with all hearing aids, an adaptation period is necessary for the brain to be retrained with all the new sounds. Katherine also excitedly reported, she is able to hear her friends at her senior lunches now. She revealed, "I am able to now join conversations all around me. I am able to turn down the TV so my neighbors don’t have to hear it anymore."

Michelle

Michelle Jerome, is a mother of two small children in Rifle, Colorado. Michelle was diagnosed at birth with hearing loss and has worn hearing aids her entire life. Her father had been diagnosed with the same genetic hearing loss. A few years ago, her last set of hearing aids broke beyond repair, and her health insurance did not cover new hearing instruments for persons over the age of 18 years old. There are very few funding options for hearing aids for adults in our Western Colorado valley. Prior to hearing aids she was constantly asking for repetition and unable to hear her children’s voices from behind.

Michelle was fit with new Resound hearing instruments. Due to the fact she has worn hearing aids before, Michelle immediately heard all the sounds of life she had been missing. She was excited to be able to hear her family’s voices again, especially her children. She reported she is now able to hear on the cell phone and landline for conversations and in busy environments, as well as outside. She reported, "The best thing about my new hearing aids is that I can now hear my children when they are playing downstairs. I like that they are easy to keep clean and people don’t really even know they are there. Thank you for this amazing gift!"

Jennifer

Jennifer Moore is a 67 year female from the Roaring Fork Valley. She reported she has been having difficulty being employed due to hearing loss and that even safety has been an issue as she is unable to hear from behind when walking, skiing or shopping. She reported she feels as though her hearing loss is isolating her socially, as it is difficult to hear her neighbors and grandchildren. Living in our beautiful valley is expensive and neither Medicare or Medicaid covers the cost of hearing aids.

We were able to fit Jennifer with was fit with new Resound hearing instruments. She instantly reported she is able to hear voices clearer and crisper, without asking for repetition.

I almost cried the first time I wore my new hearing aids! I couldn't believe how much I was missing.

Amy, Leadville, CO

Thanks again for helping my mother with her hearing aids. She has needed them for a while, and after listening to you explain her hearing loss she was ready to try them.

Carmen, Avon, CO
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