Variety – The Children’s Charity is celebrating the 50th anniversary of its Show of Hearts Telethon this year, and one Campbell River family knows exactly what a big impact the charity can have on a child’s life.
This year’s telethon will be broadcast live Feb. 13 and 14 at the Hard Rock Theatre in Coquitlam, and eight-year-old Mackenzy Egan will be one of the children featured leading up to the big event through a Youtube video.
Mackenzy and her parents, Melissa Egan and Trevor Dick, have been receiving help from Variety for the past three years, as the charity helps cover the cost of Mackenzy’s expensive hearing aids.
Although Mackenzy spent three weeks in the NICU after her birth and later failed to meet developmental milestones, today, she walks and talks with ease and she loves to dance. She was diagnosed with bilateral hearing loss when she was five.
“The little hairs in my ears that wave around, they’re bent down,” said Mackenzy, who is in Grade 3 at Pinecrest Elementary School.
Because these hairs don’t wave, they don’t pick up sound.
Melissa remembers that they went for regular hearing checks every six months and Mackenzy’s hearing was perfectly fine until six months after she started kindergarten. Even at the beginning of that year, her test was fine, but six months later, she was diagnosed with hearing loss.
“It was very unusual in kindergarten, so every time somebody tried to talk, I would ignore them, so I would tell the teacher ‘I think I have hearing loss,’” said Mackenzy.
The hearing aids made a huge difference right away.
The first time Mackenzy heard the fridge humming after she got her hearing aids, she asked her mom “why is the fridge singing?”
“When I put my hearing aids in, I can hear way better,” said Mackenzy. “I can hear Mom and Dad talking from across the house. I can hear people talking when their backs are turned. It’s way better to hear in my class. It helps so much. When I was like five at the beginning of school, a few days after that, I found out my ears stopped working. Whenever someone called it was nap time, I couldn’t hear them.”
Mackenzy practised putting her hearing aids in when she was in kindergarten and in Grade 1, and now she can put them in and take them out by herself and can check the batteries. She has a hearing resource teacher who comes once a week and teaches her how to use her aids. Mackenzy and her teachers also use an ultra-red SoundField in class; the teacher speaks into a microphone, and it makes the voices surround sound.
“School has gotten way more easier,” said Mackenzy. “I just love my hearing aids so much. I’m the only one in my class who has hearing aids. There was a teacher who came in who had one hearing aid.”
At school, Mackenzy’s desk is at the front of the classroom so she can hear better.
Melissa says her daughter advocates for herself very well; if she can’t hear, she positions herself close to the person she needs to hear.
“That’s a big thing they were working on this year, getting her to advocate for herself more,” said Melissa.
“I’m really good at that,” Mackenzy said proudly.
Melissa says Mackenzy is adapting very well. She is doing great in school and has moved up many reading levels just this year, a feat that would not have happened without her aids and the help of Variety.
When she isn’t in school, Mackenzy loves to dance and she is in Brownies.
Mackenzy’s parents heard about Variety through Melissa’s mom, as Melissa’s parents have always been supporters and have watched the telethon for many years. They would like other families to know that Variety is out there to help and to not be afraid to ask.
When they found out Mackenzy needed hearing aids, they had just purchased their first home, recalled Melissa. They had gone to another group but they were shut down for the summer, but her mother had heard of Variety and suggested they approach the charity.
“They helped out immensely,” said Melissa.
When Mackenzy was five, Variety featured a documentary about her during the Show of Hearts Telethon. This year, she did a Youtube video that will be part of the promotions for the telethon. She has also been on the radio once.
“I’m going to be a Variety Helper of Hearts when I grow up,” said Mackenzy. “Since they helped me, I want to help them.”
Mackenzy thinks it’s exciting to be able to help raise awareness and help other people who need hearing aids.
The Show of Hearts Telethon will be live-streamed Feb. 13 and 14 at globalnews.ca/live/bc on the Global BC website.