FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — Imagine hearing your own name again for the first time. How would you react? Would you laugh? Smile? Be amazed or awestruck? One Fort Wayne man knows the answer.
“Usually that reaction busts out in a huge beaming smile, and it happens enough times we call it the hearing smile,” said Ken Stewart, an audiologist with Hearing the Call.
Ken and his wife Nora got into helping the hearing impaired with charity groups like Hearing the Call a decade ago.
“The first country we ever went to my wife who’s an audiologist also, was Mexico. I think we experienced our first couple of hearing smiles and we were like, this is what we’re going to do with the rest of our lives,” Ken said.
The work can be tiring, often squeezing in patients as late as the sun will allow.
“We always say it’s happily exhausted so you’re just beat up and we will work until the sun goes down in some countries,” Ken said.
And sometimes even later.
“We’ve done hearing aids by the flashlights on our iPhone,” Ken said.
The endeavor is ultimately an expensive one, and for a particularly ambitious project, they had a much-needed angel investor.
“If they were to get it here in the United States. Probably somewhere between two and $5,000 per person and we see about 110 people a day,” Ken said.
For the project, multimillionaire and second most subscribed YouTuber, MrBeast, reached out to Hearing the Call with one goal.
Cure 1,000 people of being deaf.
After a slight correction, Ken and the rest of the team were happy to join the project.
“Well it’s not deafness, it’s hearing loss,” Ken said.
The project spanned 1,000 people who needed hearing aids across seven different countries, and Hearing the Call only got a few week’s notice.
But with the resources of MrBeast and the experience of Ken and others, a miracle happened.
“In four weeks a bunch of us went to seven countries, saw 1,500 people and fit 1,000 hearing aids,” Ken said. “We got it done.”
The video that MrBeast put together currently sits at more than 116 million views, but Ken and the rest of the team at Hearing the Call we’re just happy to have the resources to help.
“He funded 1,000 in hearing aids, that’s not a little bit of money that’s a lot of money, and he paid for all the transportation and travel costs,” Ken said. “Those kinds of resources are more than we’ve ever touched before, we’re really grateful for him.”
But with or without MrBeast making a video, Ken travels the world with Nora offering services to those in need, in search of more ‘hearing smiles.’
To fund future trips they are having a fundraiser at Parkview Field called “Cornhole for the Call,” where you can play against some of the best professional corn-hole players in the world, or play in a casual division.
The event put on by Hearing the Call will also have live music by Joe Hess and The Wandering Cowboys, and concessions.
You can register to play in the event, sponsor it, or learn more on Hearing the Call’s website.