Have you thought what it would be to not be able to hear anything? Not being able to understand why everyone is laughing, while you are sitting in the back of your car?
This is one of the most wonderful and touching stories I have heard in the last years.
It is touching, and sensitive, and wonderful.
And it is all about a 13-year old girl, who received last night the 2007 Children’s Hearing Institute Hearing Hear-o Award.
I was listening to her speech last night, and was totally shocked with the story of Molly. Molly Kestenbaum managed to overcome all problems of being deaf, and – with support from her family and friends – made it to last night spectacular appearance. Thanks also go to Dr. Ronald Hoffman, Director of the Ear Institute at the New York Eye & Eye Infirmary and co-director of the Beth Israel/New York Eye & Eye Cochlear Implant Center, she can now hear with a cochlear implant, or “bionic ear”
More pictures from the Gala Dinner are to be found at my flickr. You may notice that there was a special performance by the Bacon Brothers. They played for the audience for free, and in support of the Children’s Hearing Institute.
You can learn more how to treat and solve hearing problems at the Children’s Hearing Institute website.
So, if you didn’t know about Molly, may be it is time to think about her, and the roughly 10 million people like her. The total amount of money needed for all of them to be treated with cochlear implants is less than the money the US spent so far for the war in Iraq. And in the USA and West Europe, such operations are in general covered by the health insurance.
I am sorry for not filming the entire speech by Molly, but just the last four minutes of her great speech. You can see it at Youtube.
The other person receiving the award was the TV news correspondent Kimberly Dozier of CBS, who lost 40% on her left hearing, and 90% of her right hearing during a bomb attack in Iraq.
Vint Cerf was honored to receive the 2007 Jule Styne Humanitarian Award, established in memory of Jule Styne, renowned composer of such memorable Broadway musicals as Gypsy, Funny Girl and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Jule created the statement of the Institute mission: “that all may hear the universal language of music.”
To help the CHI, visit their donor funding opportunities’ page. Note, that “The cochlear implant – or “bionic ear” – is a true miracle of modern medicine; yet implantation is only the first step toward learning to hear and moving toward educational mainstreaming. Children who are profoundly deaf or hearing-impaired require extensive support and programming services both before and following cochlear implantation and/or fitting with hearing aids. Those who receive cochlear implants still must overcome speech and language challenges that require regular therapy, and ongoing analysis and programming of their “bionic ears.” These services are often poorly reimbursed by third party carriers, or not reimbursed at all. Fund raising helps support first class, comprehensive services for patients without adequate financial resources.”
More about Molly and her fund raising efforts:
HARRISON – Generosity and gratitude abounded yesterday as one Purchase girl became a bat mitzvah.
Molly Kestenbaum, 12, decided to turn her special day into a fundraiser.
“My life has been helped by people, and I wanted to use today to help make an impact on other people’s lives,” said Molly, who is deaf.
“It’s important to be happy in life and proud of your accomplishments,” she told friends, family and congregants at the Jewish Community Center of Harrison during the service.
One accomplishment Molly can be proud of is using her bat mitzvah to raise money for others.
Another is her mitzvah project, which she began in January as part of the ritual of becoming a Jewish adult.
“So many people made an impact on me, and I wanted to be able to help others,” she said.
“She’s amazing,” said her mother, Elissa Kestenbaum, adding that Molly is mainstreamed in school.
Molly recently received a cochlear implant, an electronic device surgically implanted behind the ear that works by directly stimulating functioning auditory nerves in the inner ear.
Now she can hear words and sounds, emotion and inflection and said she can’t imagine what her life would be like without it.
“When she turned it on she said, ‘I hear sounds and the birds outside!'” her mother said.
Painting and drawing are Molly’s favorite hobbies, so one of the charities to receive proceeds from her bat mitzvah is RxArt, a New York City organization that believes exposure to art is therapeutic.
The other is Children’s Hearing Institute in New York City, which supports research, treatment and educational programs for those with hearing loss and profound deafness.
“I feel good knowing I can help because so many people helped me,” said the auburn-haired girl.
Last night, a party was held in her honor at the Westchester County Center in White Plains. Her parents, Elissa and Alan Kestenbaum, punctuated their daughter’s gesture by purchasing about $100,000 worth of original artwork. Bat mitzvah guests received $1,000 worth of “Molly money” with the names of both charities for bidding to purchase items.
Goody bags provided information about organizations Molly hopes her guests will support, and she will donate her monetary gifts to those groups. She is taking the words she spoke at her bat mitzvah to heart.
“Stay close to friends and family,” she said, “be careful of what you say, and have confidence in your abilities.”