GENEVA – In an effort to get student-athletes to “hear the cheers,” Geneva sixth-grader Eliza Peters is leading a fundraising effort to buy costly hearing aids for students with hearing impairments.
Eliza partnered with espnW and ESPN Radio’s Sarah Spain to raise money for hearing aids and related audiology services for people in the Chicago area, with 10 percent of the donated funds staying in Kane County.
Eliza, 12, is considered legally deaf. Her family found out that she was hearing impaired when she was 5. After two unsuccessful surgeries, she was fitted with bilateral hearing aids. Her mother, Amber Peters, said even the least expensive hearing aids start at $2,500 an ear.
“We want to raise as much money as we can, but we want to get the word out that insurance doesn’t cover hearing aids,” she said.
Within the first 36 hours of fundraising, Eliza already had surpassed her goal of $5,000. She’s already raised about $6,000, and her new goal is $10,000 before the fundraiser ends at midnight Jan. 26.
Spain said she was inspired to do the fundraiser by her co-worker, Julie Foudy – a two-time Olympic medalist and women’s World Cup soccer player – who started the “Choose to Matter” campaign, which is a call to mothers and daughters to make a difference.
Spain said because she doesn’t have a daughter or a younger sister, she chose to partner with Eliza to do a fundraiser. The two had met about a year ago when Eliza’s dad, John Peters, wrote to Spain and told her Eliza always has been interested in a career in sports broadcasting. Spain gave the family a tour of the radio station, and they stayed connected.
Spain said Eliza’s experience with hearing impairment inspired their fundraiser.
“The thing I had no idea about was that most insurance companies don’t cover hearing aids,” Spain said. “That’s a real burden on a lot of families.”
Eliza, a Geneva Middle School North student, said Hear the Cheers is the first fundraising project she has worked on. She said the experience has been “awesome” so far, especially after she successfully helped raise $4,000 soon after the fundraiser kicked off.
“I wasn’t expecting $4,000 in the first day,” she said. “I was like, ‘Holy moly!’ ”
Spain and Eliza have partnered with the Chicago Hearing Society to buy hearing aids and help families with audiology services.
Each time someone donates $10 online, the donor’s name gets entered in a raffle to win sports merchandise items from teams such as Chicago Blackhawks to the 1999 women’s World Cup winning team.
How to donate
Visit www.chicagohearingsociety.org/news/item/217-hear-the-cheers to make a tax-deductible donation. Voting goes through midnight Jan. 26.