There are so many unexpected hurdles we have to jump when encountered with disabilities. Sometimes we’re lucky enough to have someone looking out for us when we can’t do it on our own. 

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Who is your... Unsung Hero
Valerie's Story. 
Images of superhero with Center for Family Involvement Logo. The words "unsung hero" in comic book cloud with orange behind it. Bottom left are outlines of people high-fiving with 3 stars above. Bottom right is a picture of Valerie with a heart at the bottom of the photo.

Our 1-3-6 Family Educator Valerie Abbott shares:

“My daughter’s hearing loss came as a complete shock to our family. After all, she had passed her newborn hearing screen when she was born. She was perfectly healthy. She’d never had a fever or an ear infection. My husband and I were completely overcome by panic and guilt. Then, there was another layer of worry – the cost of hearing aids. Each was a few thousand dollars, and we were told she’d need to replace them every few years as technology advanced. At the time, most private insurance plans didn’t cover them. 

My husband and I had to choose: a basic set, a middle of the road pair, or the Cadillac level hearing aids. The difference in price was not negligible, but we wanted our daughter to have the best we could afford. The anxiety of choosing the pair she would wear for the next 5+ years kept us up at night, as did the worries we had about the speech, language and cognitive delays caused by her late-identification. We didn’t have that kind of money.

A few days later, the phone rang. It was my father calling from Florida. I’d only seen or heard him get emotional once or twice in my life. His voice was quivering, and he struggled to get the words out. ‘I need you to buy the hearing aids today,’ he said. ‘And, I don’t want you to look at the price tag. Get her the best hearing aids for her, whatever those are. I will pay for them. I will always pay for them. I’m her grandfather and that’s what I’m gonna do.’ 

My father died a few years ago and my mother knew that he would insist she carry on this tradition every time a pair of hearing aids needed to be replaced. He never wanted recognition or thank you notes or praise. He wanted his grandchild to have whatever technology was best for her – price aside. That is an unsung hero.”