Bonnie Cherry will get the hearing aids she needed, and it looks like she won’t be the only one, either.
The 27-year-old Lawrence actor’s friends had already raised more than $5,400 to help pay for hearing aids through a Facebook site when they found out a local audiologist volunteered to donate a pair for Cherry.
Her friends took action after treatment for a brain tumor damaged Cherry’s hearing and insurance wouldn’t cover the high cost of hearing aids.
Ky Willbanks, a doctor of audiology practicing in Lawrence and Kansas City, Mo., said that the hearing aid donation frees up the funds raised in Cherry’s honor to be spent on someone else.
Cherry is scheduled to be fitted with a new pair of top-of-the-line hearing aids this afternoon at Willbanks’ Echo Hearing Systems office in Kansas City.
“We saw the story in the paper and it just kind of struck us,” Willbanks said. “We got in contact with her through her donation page, and we just flat out told her, ‘We’d be happy to help you.’”
In an e-mail, Cherry said she felt lucky to have a community that engages and supports one another.
“When a community comes together to help anyone, it restores your faith in people,” she wrote. “But when your community works to help you, and when that community extends out to other cities and states and people you’ve never met, ... it’s kind of overwhelming. I’m grateful and warm.”
Amy Albright, one of the volunteers who helped raise money for Cherry, said she was surprised to learn of the hassles that are associated with paying for hearing aids. Cherry’s health insurance wouldn’t cover any of the $5,400 cost of the devices.
“The specifics of all of that are completely new to me since I’ve gotten involved in Bonnie’s situation, and it’s horrifying,” Albright said.
She said that Cherry and others would likely meet in coming days to determine exactly how the group would distribute the remaining funds. A possibility could include selecting a recipient for new hearing aids based on recommendations from the community.
“It’s just amazing,” Albright said of the response so far. “The Facebook thing, I think, has really made it happen.”