The Starkey Hearing Foundation raised over 9 million dollars at this year’s annual “So the World May Hear” Awards Gala. The event not only had speeches from former President George W. Bush and former President Bill Clinton, but this year’s Gala also featured Katy Perry as the musical headliner. atombash.com got the opportunity to speak exclusively with some of the attendees about their impressions and experiences with Starkey.
Four-time World Heavyweight Champion Evander ‘Real Deal’ Holyfield
Examiner: “How has the Starkey Foundation influenced you?”
EH: “With me…I wouldn’t be the person who I am if it wasn’t for people like Mr. Bill Austin. Mr. Bill gives opportunity and changes lives.
So, you have to imagine the man at the boy’s club that told me when I was 8 years old that ‘You could be like Muhammad Ali’, I told him ‘But I’m only 8’, he said ‘You won’t always be 8’ and I believed him and it changed my life.
Opportunities like that can change people’s lives. When I look at Starkey, the hearing opportunity is a totally different thing, you change somebody’s whole world because they can hear.”
Examiner: “So it’s safe to say that the Starkey Foundation truly builds dreams?”
EH: “They sure do.”
Former Minnesota Vikings running back and current ESPN analyst Robert Smith
Examiner: “Who first introduced you to the Starkey Foundation?”
RS: “Moe Williams, former teammate, former running back, and colleague of mine told me about it. It’s the most inspirational event that I attend every year and that’s why I keep coming back.
Obviously you see a lot of interesting people and old teammates so that’s always fun. More importantly it is about the lives that get changed, and witnessing that first hand, it’s very inspirational.”
Examiner: “What does the foundation and their work mean to you on a more personal level?”
RS: “I’m going to take one of these mission trips. Bill & Tani have all the money in the world, they don’t need anymore, and they could put it anywhere. They decide to use it for people all around the world who are in need.
It’s really touching to be able to impact lives the way that they do. It helps keep life in perspective, and coming here always kind of resets things for me.”
Actress, Dascha Polanco from cast of Orange Is the New Black
Examiner: “What were your first impressions when you found out about the Starkey Hearing Foundation?”
DP: “I’m ready to cry, because I’m ready to hear more of the stories, but my first impressions are very, very good. You can tell sometimes by the people who take part in certain foundations, how they embrace what they do and how they welcome newcomers.
This is my first time here in Minneapolis, first time with this organization, and I’ve just had great experiences. I had dinner with them last night, and I heard stories, and now I’m looking forward to listening to the missions that they’ve had and I want to go on missions. So I’ve been able to really connect, and that’s what I do this for.”
Examiner: “So you’re already planning on attending a mission?”
DP: “Oh yeah, I already had to block it out on my calendar. I have to pack for it, make sure that I’m back in advance, I’m ready. I’m gonna need a lot of Scott tissue.”
Actor/Comedian Cheech Marin
Examiner: “This is your first time attending the Starkey Hearing Gala, how did you first learn about the work of the Starkey Foundation?
CM: “I was recently introduced to the Starkey Foundation by Mitch Sacharoff, a publicist friend of mine in LA. He said ‘You got to come to this event, it’s a really great cause, and they do great work.’ And I’ve been finding out they actually do great work all around the world, so it’s a really wonderful place.”
Actor/Comedian Kelly Perine
Examiner: “How did you first get involved with the Starkey Foundation?”
KP: “I got involved with Starkey because I do some work with Greg Jennings and his Foundation. Every year I go to Greg Jennings events and when I meet the Starkey people they’re just so fantastic.
They tell me about the work that they’re doing around the world to bring hearing to folks. I was lucky enough to be invited and I decided I’d do whatever I can to help out the cause, so I’m just happy to be here.”
Examiner: “So, do you have any plans on future missions, or are you just playing it by ear?”
KP: “Y’know what, if I get called I’ll go. Cause I talk to people who go on the missions. They just tell me about the joy they see in people’s faces when they hear their child cry for the first time, or they hear a friend say hello. If I can be anyway a part of that I’m going to pack my bags and go wherever they send me.”
Rock & Roll Hall of Fame member Sam ‘The Legendary Soul Man’ Moore
Examiner: “How long have you been associated with the Starkey Foundation?”
SM: “Twenty years ago I found out about Starkey, the first person I saw get their hearing fixed was Lou Ferrigno and that was in California. I’ve been coming here every year since, so that should tell you that I love the children’s faces, and I love anyone that for the first time gets the opportunity to hear.”
Examiner: “As a musician, does Starkey’s mission effect how you view your audience?”
SM: “Yes, but more importantly, the world should never not hear.”
1st pick of the 2015 NBA Draft, Minnesota Timberwolves Karl-Anthony Towns
Examiner: “Timberwolves/Lynx owners Glen & Becky Taylor are huge contributors to this foundation, how did you learn about Starkey?”
KT: “I learned about it through the Minnesota Timberwolves. Just them knowing how much community service I do, and how much I take pride into it. Them giving me an opportunity to come here and help with this Foundation, it was an awesome experience. Being able to be here today is an honor and a privilege.”
Former NFL wide receiver Sidney Rice
Examiner: “When was you first experience with the Starkey Foundation?”
SR: “I’ve been working with them since 2009, when I was here in Minnesota they fit us with some ear plugs for noise cancellation. Later that year, I was able to go down to the Super Bowl and helped fit some of the kids down in Miami.
That was my first time helping them out. Over the last six months I’ve been on two trips with them, to Sri Lanka and Madagascar, so two of the most random places in the world.”
Examiner: “What was the most influential memory you’ve had on a mission?”
SR: “It’s always the same, it’s just like winning the Super Bowl every time. When you see the kids, the joy and excitement on their parent’s faces when they can finally communicate with their child for the first time. It’s an amazing feeling.”