08/02/09 — O'Berry Foundation provides hearing aid

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O'Berry Foundation provides hearing aid

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on August 2, 2009 2:00 AM

Jordan Wiggins suffered through a lot of ear infections when he was younger -- a common problem for children born with Down Syndrome, his mother, Jenny, says.

"He went through four or five sets of tubes, probably even more," she said.

What's supposed to happen once the tubes come out, however, did not happen for her son.

"In his case, the tubes came out and the hole, as he grew, the hole just kept growing, too. It never sealed on its own," Mrs. Wiggins said. "It was affecting his hearing."

Surgeons helped, but ultimately Jordan lost his ability to hear.

Now 13, Jordan spent nearly a year living in a "muffled" world.

"We had to have the TV really, really loud or the radio" for her older son, Mrs. Wiggins said.

Jordan, who attends school in a self-contained classroom, has received speech therapy for years. The loss of hearing, however, worsened the situation.

"He was regressing. He wasn't hearing the beginning or the end sounds of words," his mother said.

A hearing aid was suggested, but was cost-prohibitive. Husband Matt had been in an accident, injuring both legs, so the family had amasssed quite a few medical bills.

"Both my husband and I work," Mrs. Wiggins said. "I'm a full-time student, going to school. Insurance did not cover for two hearing aids. They were somewhere near $5,000 apiece."

Matt, who previously worked at O'Berry Center and now at Cherry Hospital, started asking around and discovered a possible benefactor.

O'Berry Foundation provides grants to families living in its service area to purchase needed equipment such as van lifts, communication devices, orthopedic appliances and recreational equipment and wheelchairs.

The Foundation was willing to fund one of the hearing aids, Mrs. Wiggins said. Since Jordan's right ear is the better of the two, he received one for his left ear.

Progress has been steady, said the mother of two -- younger son Seth is 7.

"I think it's a lot better and (Jordan) seems very excited to wear his hearing aid," she said. "He doesn't wear it all the time, but he definitely asks for it. He knows he needs it and he knows he can hear better with it. He's learned how to cut it on and cut it off, where to store it."

The family is grateful the Foundation was in place and could provide something for their son that they could not.

"We have truly been blessed," Mrs. Wiggins said. "The Lord's been good to us. It just seems like at this particular time, there were a lot of other things going on medically. It just wasn't possible at that time to afford the hearing aid.

"It was nice that we could go to them and that they were available to help."

"People love to talk about their children and grandchildren and you know that they will do anything for their loved ones," said Linda Jones, Foundation board member. "However, when a child has a disability, it is much more difficult to provide all the resources that they need. If it takes a village to raise a child, then that same village or community has to accept the challenges of the developmentally disabled and get involved, provide support and be encouraged to help them achieve their greatest potential."

Providing a "safety net" for families of individuals with developmental disabilities is just one role the Foundation plays, especially during tough economic times, said Monnie Lunsford, executive director. The Foundation was created three years ago and has helped close to 100 families, as well as providing scholarships and quality of life grants. Funding comes directly from individuals and businesses.

The Foundation is kicking off its first-ever Foundation Awareness Week at O'Berry Aug. 3-7. The public is invited to participate in the annual Foundation Meal Deal at the center on Wednesday. Tickets are $5 each and can be purchased in advance by calling Sonya Lewis at 581-4014.