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July 4, 2006

Students' Efforts Change Custodian's Life

From: KSL-TV - Salt Lake City,UT,USA - Jul 4, 2006

Keith McCord Reporting

Last month, we told you about a group of Olympus Junior High students who were raising money to help their custodian, who is extremely hearing impaired. And those efforts have changed his life!

When we interviewed Terry Birch in May, his hearing was so poor, we wrote our questions on a blackboard so he could understand better. If we spoke very loudly, Terry could hear a few words, but communicating was difficult.

Things have certainly changed for Terry since then; you don't have to raise your voice anymore.

During the last few months of school, students at Olympus Junior high had a fund-drive going to raise money so Terry could get cochlear implants. Donated items from celebrities and other events brought in more than $27,000!

Turns out, Justin Osmond, part of the famous Osmond family and also hearing impaired, saw our story. Osmond works with the Starkey Hearing Foundation in Minneapolis, a non-profit organization that provides 20,000 new state-of-the-art hearing aids to needy patients each year.

Osmond made arrangements for Terry to try these hearing aids, instead of the cochlear implants. So far, so good!

And the story doesn't end there. When school ended, the students started helping out at Terry's house in West Valley, cleaning and painting--the home was in bad shape.

Some of Terry's former high school classmates have helped too; they've basically rebuilt the place.

Kenny Willden, Former classmate: "We've painted it. Wade's in the process of doing the wall paper. We're doing all the floors, the electrical, the plumbing. We put in a new tub."

Thanks to a lot of people who cared, life for Terry and his family is a bit brighter these days, and it's fair to say, delightfully more noisy!

The Starkey Hearing Foundation also fitted Terry's wife and daughter with free hearing aids as well.

©KSL Television & Radio, Salt Lake City UT