Four-year old Blaine Frisbie of small-town Montana heard himself laugh for the first time when he was fit with his new hearing aids earlier this year. His eyes lit up at the sound, and his mother, Val, and audiologist Tina Berg Fields both found themselves weeping with joy at the sight of a new world opening up for young Blaine.
“It was so incredible!” says Val Frisbie looking back on that day. She remembers Blaine biting into a potato chip after the fitting and looking up to tell her, “These are weally crunchy!” That evening her husband, Tim – who had initially struggled with the idea of putting hearing aids in someone so young – also became a believer. “Once Tim saw the difference he was amazed,” says Val. She remembers how tired Blaine was that night as he went to bed with his head filled with new sounds and new knowledge.
She reports that, with the help of speech therapy, Blaine has been progressing rapidly ever since in his ability to pronounce words clearly. Sister Tailor (14) and brother Brock (9) have enjoyed Blaine’s increased ability to talk with and support his efforts at continued improvement daily. In fact, it is Tailor who helps Blaine put his aids in each morning. For his part, Blaine is quite responsible about wearing them and quick to report when he needs new batteries.
“The Lions who have helped us need to know what a wonderful difference these aids have made for our whole family,” says Val. Blaine was born with substantial hearing loss. An early misdiagnosis gave the Frisbies false hope that the loss could be reversed, but tubes to drain excess fluid and other intervention measures failed to make a difference. When it became apparent that hearing aids were necessary, cost still remained an obstacle.
Both parents work – Val teaches special education at the local school district, and Tim works at a local factory – but the $5,000+ price tag for the high-quality aids that Blaine needed still posed substantial hardship. Fortunately, area audiologist Tina Berg Fields is a partner in the AUDIENT hearing care provider network. This network that makes aids available to income-qualified families at steeply-discounted prices made it possible for Tina to provide Blaine with two high-quality Siemans aids with special kid-gear pack for $1,560. Then the news got even better for the Frisbies. To help this young, local, and deserving family, the Montana Lions Foundation for Sight & Hearing agreed to pay $1,210 of the cost. Our Foundation’s own Patient Care Program kicked in the last $350. Total out-of-pocket cost to the Frisbies? $0.
“We are so very thankful for all that the Lions Foundation did for Blaine,” says Val. “Because of you, he was given the chance to grow and learn.”