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Starkey's Great American Gala raises $1 million for The Hearing Foundation

The Hearing Foundation's 2002 "Great American Awards Gala" raised more than $1 million for the purchase and dissemination of hearing instruments for needy adults and children throughout the world.

Co-sponsored by Rayovac, The Hearing Foundation (formerly known as The Starkey Hearing Foundation) held it's second annual gala at the Minneapolis Hilton on August 25, 2002 and featured performances by Paul Anka, The Osmond Brothers, Billy Dean and Nita Whitaker.

The event honored many great Americans who suffer from various levels of hearing impairment and whose contributions to society have benefited many worthy causes and charities. The 2002 Great American Award recipients were Reverend Billy Graham, General H. Norman Schwarzkopf, former Miss America Heather Whitestone McCallum and astronaut Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin. Each of the honorees personally knows the challenges of hearing loss and the benefits associated with modern hearing care.

About The Honorees

Reverend Billy Graham

Although Reverend Billy Graham was not able to attend because of his wife's health problems, he was honored with a video tribute of his life's achievements. Presenter, Pat Boone read a letter from Reverend Graham thanking the Foundation for the honor and praising the great work of Bill Austin. Reverend Graham has preached the Gospel to more people in live audiences than anyone else in history - over 210 million people in more than 185 countries and territories. Hundreds of millions more have been reached through television, video, film, and webcasts. He has led countless individuals to make personal decisions to live for Christ, which is the main thrust of his ministry. Graham is regularly listed by the Gallup organization as one of the "Ten Most Admired Men in the World," whom it described as the dominant figure in that poll since 1948 - making an unparalleled 44th appearance and 37th consecutive appearance.

General H. Norman Schwarzkopf
General Schwarzkopf has been a supporter of the Foundation for many years and his inspiring message loved by all in attendance. General Schwarzkopf is best known for his service as Commander in Chief, United States Central Command and Commander of Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. Since his retirement from the military, General Schwarzkopf has joined the ranks of successful authors with the publication of his best selling autobiography, "It Doesn't Take A Hero," and has participated in six critically acclaimed television specials, including the Peabody Award winning special, "D-Day." General Schwarzkopf has been actively involved in conservation throughout his life and is currently serving on the Nature Conservancy's President Conservation Council and is the national spokesperson for the Recovery of the Grizzly Bear. Additionally, General Schwarzkopf is Chairman of the STARBRIGHT Capital Campaign, to improve the quality of life for seriously ill children; co-founder with Paul Newman of the Boggy Creek Gang, a year-round camp in Florida for children with chronic illnesses; Chairman of the Committee for the U.S. Military Cancer Institute; national spokesperson for prostate cancer awareness; member of the board of Cap CURE, Association for the Cure of Cancer of the Prostate; member of the board of Friends of Cancer Research; sponsored a major yearly nonprofit shooting event, The Schwarzkopf Cup, which, through the event and personal advocacy, raised $13 million for the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis; and served as the Chairman of the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship's March on Washington.


Heather Whitestone McCallum
Miss America of 1995, Heather Whitestone McCallum has been a leading advocate of amplification for many years. She was the first woman with a disability to be crowned Miss America in the Pageant's 75 year history. Heather lost her hearing at the age of eighteen months when she was rushed to the hospital with a dangerously high fever, the cause of which was later diagnosed as the Haemophilus influenza virus. According to the doctors, she was only hours from death when they administered two powerful antibiotics that reduced her fever and saved her life. With the doctors' assurances, Heather's relieved family took her home believing that their once energetic toddler would be back to normal within a few weeks. After a few months, it became painfully obvious that there was a problem when Heather's mother accidentally dropped a pile of pans on the kitchen floor and Heather, who was playing nearby, did not even flinch. At the Children's Hospital in Birmingham, Alabama, Heather tested as "profoundly deaf" with no hearing in either ear. Her condition was concluded to be the result of the virus, the antibiotics or a combination of both. Heather has served as an executive board member on the President's Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities. She is a currently a board member of the National Institute of Health and the Human Deaf and Other Communications Disorders Advisory Council. Heather also spearheaded the nation's largest multimedia public service campaign to identify early hearing loss, which was created by the Miss America Organization and the Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf.

Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin
A long time supporter of the Foundation, Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin thanked Bill Austin for his gracious work for the helping the world's hearing impaired. In October 1963, Buzz was selected by NASA as one of the early astronauts. In November 1966, he established a new record for Extra-Vehicular Activity (EVA) in space on the Gemini XII orbital flight mission. Buzz has logged 4500 hours of flying time, 290 of which were in space, including 8 hours of EVA. As Backup Command Module Pilot for Apollo VIII, man's first flight around the moon, he significantly improved operational techniques for astronautical navigation star display. Then, on July 20, 1969, Buzz and Neil Armstrong made their historic Apollo XI moonwalk, thus becoming the first two humans to set foot on another world. The largest worldwide television audience in history witnessed the moonwalk. Currently Buzz is owner and chief executive officer of Starcraft Enterprises - his private space endeavor company. He lectures throughout the world about pursuing latest concepts and ideas for exploring the universe. He is a leading voice in charting the course of future space efforts from planet Earth.

The evening also featured a video presentation from United States President George W. Bush welcoming all the guests and commending Starkey Chief Executive Officer, William Austin on his philanthropic efforts to bring amplification to underprivileged children and adults not only in the United States, but throughout the world. President Bush concluded his address by thanking everyone in attendance and wished everyone a great evening.

Silent and live auctions also helped raise donations for the Hearing Foundation. Auction items included two golf carts autographed by Arnold Palmer and donated by EZ-GO, sports memorabilia, fine jewelry and fur and a variety of sporting goods.

The evening would not have been possible without the support and generosity of many businesses and organizations, which included: Gennum Corporation, Sonion Microtronic, LaSalle Bank, Resistance Technology, Inc., Walker's Game Ear, Royal Caribbean Cruise Line, Micro-Tech, Knowles Electronics, DSP Factory, Ernest and Young, Henkel Loctite, Van Buerden Insurance Services, Dorsey and Whitney LLP, Unisys, Hewlett-Packard, Marriott Corporation, Glenrose Foral, Beacon Mailing, Pohlad Family Charities and Creek Lithographics.

About The Hearing Foundation

Founded in 1978, The Hearing Foundation is dedicated to helping hearing-impaired people worldwide. Its mission is to promote hearing care awareness through the support of hearing research, education and charitable programs. On average each year the foundation provides more than 40,000 hearing aids to needy individuals, completely free of charge. Through donations of time, money, products and materials, the international outreach program has improved countless lives through better hearing.

In addition to its philanthropic endeavors, the foundation is committed to providing support and sponsorship of a number of industry-related public awareness campaigns. For more information about the foundation, please visit www.sotheworldmayhear.org

Click here to visit the Starkey website.

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