JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (KMIZ)
About 30,000 Special Olympics athletes have hearing loss, but 83% of them have never had a hearing examine, according to the Special Olympics and Starkey.
Hearing aid manufacturer Starkey hosted hearing screenings during the Special Slympics games Saturday in Jefferson City. Athletes got hearing tests and can qualify for free hearing aids through a program called Starkey Cares.
"It's the first time ever our healthy hearing program is actually going to be able to potentially give out free hearing aids for athletes that qualify," said Andrew Kauffman, marketing director for the Missouri Special Olympics.
Since the program's inception, Starkey Cares has given out more than 600 free hearing aids. In addition, Starkey offers the athletes the followup care needed, like checkups and adjustments, through its network of hearing professionals.
"Some of our athletes tonight are going to come home with hearing aids that might cost thousands of dollars if they didn't have this opportunity," Kauffman said. "So for them to get that for free is really life changing."