Archive for Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Woman uses Facebook to raise money for hearing aids

December 22, 2009


It started less than two weeks ago when Bonnie Cherry posted a message on her Facebook page.

As the 27-year-old Lawrence actor was losing her hearing because of a procedure performed three years ago to remove a brain tumor, she needed about $5,400.

Her health insurance would not cover the hearing aids she needed. She had turned to the social networking Web site seeking help, advice, anything.

“I’m not the kind of person who asks for help a lot,” Cherry said. “And I think it’s really hard for people to ask for help because in a way it’s sort of admitting defeat.”

Her friends — and people she doesn’t even know — have responded in a big way. As of Monday they were only about $600 shy of their goal.

“I’m really blown away,” Cherry said.

Amy Albright, who owns Vinland Valley Nursery in Douglas County, saw Cherry’s message.

Eventually a brainstorming session with her sister, Andrea Albright, and their friend Christy Kennedy through social media, e-mail and conversations, they developed the idea for a “virtual lemonade stand.” They set up a Web page through the Vinland Valley Nursery and a Facebook group to accept donations.

A donor who wished to remain anonymous agreed to buy one of the hearing aids. The group is close to having enough funds to buy the second one.

A majority of the donations have come from the Lawrence area. Albright said people have also stepped up even if they don’t know Cherry. They just saw the group on Facebook.

“That’s been a big part of it — people who don’t have a lot of dough kicking in,” Albright said.

Cherry, who is the administrative coordinator at the Lawrence Arts Center, was diagnosed with a brain tumor nine years ago. Her most recent surgery three years ago at Barnes Jewish Hospital in St. Louis removed the tumor for now.

But it also paralyzed her vocal cords, which took about two years to fix. The surgery caused immediate damage to hearing in her right ear, and she had been losing hearing in her left ear since then.

She has learned to read lips, and she has to turn the volume up on her phone very high to be able to hear. The hearing aids will help her immensely at work and socially, she said.

“It warms your guts that people really do have the capacity to do really great things,” Cherry said.

The Facebook group for Cherry is named “The Bonnie Cherry Ladies Hearing Aid Society.” The fundraising Web site is


overthemoon 8 years, 6 months ago

I use hearing aids and they are atrociously expensive. No insurance covers them and the reason, per my audiologists, is so many people need them that it would be a losing proposition for the insurance industry. However, one can get vision coverage with an annual allowance for eyeglasses which a great many people need. I don't understand the difference.

Big applause for Christy and Amy. Bonnie's life will be hugely impacted by this. Hearing impairment, especially for younger people is severely crippling professionally and socially. I know. Been there.

overthemoon 8 years, 6 months ago

Funny thing, when there is something good going on in Lawrence, Christy Kennedy is often involved. What a gal.

Deja Coffin 8 years, 6 months ago

That's wonderful! I know that will be one thing this young lady won't have to worry about over the holiday! There are so many generous people out there!

Now if only my grandma would actually wear hers!!

childothe80s 8 years, 6 months ago

There will also be a fund raising show on January 28th at the Jazzhaus featuring local bands and entertainment. More details forthcoming and proceeds will go to the hearing aid fund as well. Thank you to everyone who has donated and for supporting this worthwhile cause for my friend Bonnie

justthefacts 8 years, 6 months ago

Bonnie's (many) friends are also putting together a silent auction to benefit this cause (and she also has a ton of medical debt for the cancer surgery and treatment). Anyone wanting to help this lovely young woman out is encouraged to go to the Vineland site, read her story, and donate. Every dime helps out a worthy person and cause!

b_asinbeer 8 years, 6 months ago

Great cause.

I've had hearing loss all of my life (congenital), and didn't get my first hearing aids until I was 20 due to money problems. That was 10 years ago.

Teachers didn't understand my problem thoroughly and I had to sit at the front of the class to understand the lectures. I've even had to drop a couple of classes in college due to Professor not helping with the cause, but did retake them with different instructors (got A's!). I've never really thought to ask anyone to get me one (for a variety of reasons, I won't disclose them, as this is an upbeat article).

My parents were finally able to raise enough money by themselves to buy me a pair. Just a few months ago, one of my hearing aids broke, now I'm left with 1. Is it hard? Yes. But, I'm learning to go back to the basics...reading lips, trying to get people to stay on the one ear my hearing aid is on.

I am hoping that this is only temporary. I'm trying to raise the funds while going to grad school. I'm only about 5% there.

I guess, what I'm trying to say is that I'm glad that Bonnie is getting help and I wish insurance would cover this. I really didn't ask to be born with this. I guess one of the only positives that came out of it was that I became an expert at reading lips before I even got my first and only hearing aids.

Oh well...back to basics, I guess.

Erin Pfannenstiel 8 years, 6 months ago

Aww... Bonnie, that is so awesome! I'm so happy for you and it must feel awesome to know so many people care!

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