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1-year-old cancer survivor loses his hearing aid while visiting Santa at NJ mall

EDISON, N.J. — A New Jersey family is hoping for a Christmas miracle.

Little Everett Pepin lost his hearing aid while visiting Santa at the mall in Edison, said his mom, Liz Pepin. The aid was attached to a clip, but came free. It is light blue swirled with glitter.

“We decided to go home and on our way out of the mall, we decided to stop at a kiosk to get an ornament and we’re assuming somewhere between the walk from the food court to the kiosk to home, he must’ve ripped it out since he was facing outward in the stroller, we didn’t see it fall,” said Pepin.

They didn’t realize it was missing until they returned home.

“Twenty minutes after we got home, we were looking for it," Pepin said. "We tore the house apart. It’s not here.”

The family is asking for help finding Everett's hearing aid. The boy, who turns 2 in January, was diagnosed with bilateral retina blastoma, a type of eye cancer, as a newborn. He lost some of his hearing in both ears during chemotherapy treatments.

Everett underwent six round of chemotherapy. He was cleared for 10 months and was stable, but relapsed in May of this year. He had more treatment over the summer, and that's when his family realized he was having hearing problems.

"After treatment, we started realizing his speech is delayed, he’s not really speaking," Pepin said. "We got him tested and they found out he had hearing loss from the chemotherapy. He is currently stable but with this particular cancer, he is likely to have reoccurrence until the age of 5."

He has mild hearing loss in the right ear and mild to moderate in the left ear. He only wears a hearing aid in the left ear. Everett’s quality of life improved as soon as he got his custom-fit hearing aid.

“There was a noticeable difference as soon as he got the hearing aid, he wasn’t really speaking but as soon as we put in the hearing aid, we said his name and my wife said his name and he said his name back,” said Pepin.

Everett’s hearing aid is costly.  It’s an added expense this young family was not anticipating during the holiday season. What’s more, Pepin and her wife, Katie are expecting twin girls in the spring.

“A hearing aid, typically if insurance doesn’t pay for it, it’s over $1,000," Pepin said. The one we lost is unfortunately the loaner one the hospital gave us while we wait for his permanent one. So, we have to pay the hospital back $500 dollars at least.”

His family has noticed a difference in Everett, normally a happy, playful little boy, in the past few days.

“He’s been having lot more tantrums because he has difficulty hearing and understanding things. He can’t pick up our voices so it’s been harder.”

His mom has issued a a heartfelt plea. Everett's family can be reached here if you find his hearing aid.

“If you think you might have it or are not sure, post a picture online or reach out, it’s really hard for families who need hearing aids. Insurance only cover one every two years, they’re very expensive, $1,000 or more per hearing aid, if you find it, please return it.”