A couple with ties to Statesboro plan to start a local chapter of Hearing Loss Association of America for the Southeast/CSRA area.
Dave and Carrie Welter, who live in Augusta but own and regularly visit a farm in Bulloch County on Woodrum Road, invite all interested persons to attend a meeting at 11:30 a.m. Monday at R.J.’s Steakery. Participants are invited to go through the line to order lunch and gather for a program from noon until 1 p.m.
The Welters have a personal interest in the organization.
“My wife has two cochlear implants,” Dave Welter said. “She went from total deafness to 90 percent hearing. She’d been losing hearing slowly since fifth grade due to a hereditary issue, but sat in the front of classrooms and made do without hearing aids. She went to Mercer and had a professor with a moustache and a lisp and she made her first ever D. She was devastated.
“Her hearing declined rapidly about 7 or 8 years ago and she had her first cochlear implant. About six months ago, her other ear went totally deaf and four months ago, she had her second implant.”
Dave said that they had attended a concert after the implants and his wife said, “I cannot believe it – I heard every single note.”
And, after a church service, Carrie said with excitement, “I can hear those little handbells.”
The local chapter of Hearing Loss Association of America might be new to this area, but not new to the Welters. When Carrie retired from her job in a media center after almost totally losing her hearing, she started the Augusta chapter in 1997. Both Welters served the organization until recently, when they turned the reins over to others to begin a chapter in Statesboro area at the urging of local friends.
“Our mission is to present information about hearing loss and how those individuals with hearing loss can improve their communication skills,” Dave said. “About 12 percent of people nationwide have significant hearing loss, which roughly means about 1,000 people in Bulloch County.”
Welter also gave the statistic that about 200 children are born annually in Georgia who need cochlear implants, which is a costly procedure.
The Welters encourage all interested persons, those with hearing loss and those who have family and friends with hearing loss, to attend the informative meeting.