Thanks to the efforts of 3 local Lions Clubs, deaf 11-month-old will receive new hearing aids

Written by Amy Bowen

Thanks to the efforts of 3 local Lions Clubs, deaf 11-month-old will receive new hearing aidsAbigail Voight snuggles with her grandpa. She laughs with her dad and cries when her mom leaves the room.

But the 11-month-old is overcoming what could have been a major setback. Voight was born with a severe hearing loss, and needs to use hearing aids.

Her parents, Stacy and Jeremy Voight, are extremely grateful for some much-needed help they got recently from three Lions Clubs. The St. Cloud, Metro and Southside Lions worked together to give $3,000 toward the purchase of Abigail’s hearing aids.

“I can’t even express how grateful we are and how amazing they are,” said Stacy Voight of St. Cloud. “We’re definitely going to pay it forward.”

They were given a check this week toward the new devices. The aids will cost $3,600 at Minnesota Lions Children’s Hearing and Ear, Nose, Throat Clinic at University of Minnesota Amplatz Children’s Hospital. Abigail receives her care at the Minneapolis clinic.

Abigail was born April 13, 2012, at St. Cloud Hospital. Her hearing loss was discovered shortly after birth. Her parents had no idea that she was deaf.

The family’s medical insurance doesn’t cover hearing aids, Stacy Voight said. Abigail needed hearing aids soon after birth to help her development. She would have not have been able to talk without them.

The cost of the hearing aids would have wiped out the Voights. One doctor’s office even handed the family a bank loan application.

“It’s seen as cosmetic (by insurance companies),” Stacy Voight said. “It’s a luxury to hear. They can get by with sign language.”

Stacy Voight heard about the Lions’ mission of helping with hearing and sight issues. She wrote an email, which found its way to Bob Seitz, hearing chairman of the St. Cloud Lions.

That club annually helps about five people with hearing aids and 20 with glasses. Seitz contacted the two other St. Cloud clubs about contributing.

Donation requests are granted based on financial hardships, Seitz said. The Voight family needed the hearing aids right away, while keeping up with other bills. The additional expense would have been difficult to absorb. Representatives from the three clubs met Abigail and her family. The little girl is currently wearing hearing aids on loan from the Minnesota Lions Hearing Aid Loaner Program.

The club members were taken with Abigail’s dimples and cheerful personality.

“She stole my heart,” Seitz said. “I’m just so happy. This makes me feel good. Our work pays off.”

The hearing aids should last three years. The Voights can now save to cover the upcoming cost. They are also investigating cochlear implants, surgical devices that help the deaf hear.

“We are giving her the opportunity to function as you and I,” Stacy Voight said. “She would be back years (in development) if she didn’t have the hearing aids.”