Colton, Kerri, Dave and Shea Goff
Imagine being a parent with all its normal ups and downs. Now, think about being a parent to two children with chronic medical conditions that can only be treated with multiple surgeries. Now imagine the mom has the same chronic medical condition. Just one of these challenges would be overwhelming – but it’s simply life for Kerri and Dave Goff, who live in Waterford Township, Michigan.
Kerri and her children Shea (13) and Colton (11) have Chiari malformations, which are structural defects in the cerebellum, the area in the brain that controls balance (Conquer Chiari, 2014). These malformations cause a variety of problems that can include chronic pain, balance problems, hearing loss, vision loss, numbness in the limbs, chronic fatigue and much more. Often, this “monster,” as Kerri refers to it, requires many surgeries as well.
Last fall, Kerri reached out to Derrick Coleman’s No Excuses Foundation. Both Shea and Colton need hearing aids for moderate-to-severe bilateral hearing loss. As their insurance didn’t cover hearing aids, the Goffs were not sure how they could find the money for hearing aids on top of all of the other medical bills. Coleman reached out to Starkey Hearing Technologies to see how we could help this amazing, resilient family.
Kimberly, Au.D., and David Kelley, owners of the Livingston Hearing Center in Hartland Township, Michigan, were happy to assist. Kimberly fit both children with hearing aids in November 2014. The Kelleys and their staff took great care to understand what the Goff children needed. Direct audio input (DAI), streaming and the receiver-in-canal design bubbled to the top of the list. Colton has had several surgeries on his ears and at the time of the first visit was scheduled for another cholesteatoma surgery, so Kimberly worked slowly only on the good ear and made sure to check in with Colton as they went. Colton is now the proud owner of red 3 Series i110 RICs with green and yellow swirled earmolds, along with a SurfLink Mobile. Shea, as any typical teenage girl does, loves her music and had already picked out her earmold color when she came into the office! She was fit with fuchsia 3 Series i110 hearing aids with purple and blue polka dot earmolds and a SurfLink Mobile. In addition, the family now has a SurfLink Media to stream TV. To ensure the children would have no trouble navigating at school, DAI boots that work with the school system were ordered, and Kimberly worked directly with the school audiologist to ensure that everything would work well.
Shea immediately took to her hearing aids and started streaming. Kimberly received an email from Kerri saying, “Shea is upstairs rocking away!” She was thrilled to be able to dance to her music without needing any wires.
Colton was originally fit monaurally and took a little more time to adjust. He was shy about trying to stream his music through his SurfLink Mobile – he didn’t want anyone to know what he was listening to! Once he figured out that it would stream only to his hearing aids, he loved it. He was fit with his other hearing aid about one month later and is doing well.
“We believe strongly in giving back and sharing what God has blessed us with, which is why we partner with Starkey and the Hearing Angel program,” said David. “Our motto is ‘Creating better lifestyles through better hearing.’ We change people’s lives daily, but nothing compares to changing the life of a child, helping them to become the person God created them to be. Colton and Shea are two amazing children, who are not handicapped – they are handi-able, as they are capable of doing anything they set their minds to, and now they can hear the applause when they do.”
Even with all the difficulties they face every day, the Goffs work to find the joy in life. Kerri is honest when her kids say they just want to be normal. She tells them, “There is no such thing as normal. Our life is normal. It is normal for us, and each and every challenge that we face and overcome helps us to become stronger and helps us to become who it is that we are supposed to be.”
Kerri grieves the loss of a typical childhood for her kids, but says her purpose is still being defined. “We will help and support others when we can. And, we will never, ever give up!”
Conquer Chiari. (2014). Retrieved from: http://www.conquerchiari.org