SAYREVILLE, N.J. — A New Jersey toddler who lost his hearing aid has received an outpouring of support from PIX11 viewers after our story aired Monday night — and a replacement device.
Everett Pepin, who is 22 months old, lost the aid last Thursday after a trip to see Santa at Menlo Park Mall in Edison. He either lost it inside the mall or in the parking lot.
A replacement device would cost upwards of $500, an added expense his family was not anticipating during the holiday season.
“He goes to speech school and he needs his hearing aid to be there,” said Liz Pepin, Everett’s mom. "So without the hearing aid, he can’t participate in class."
His parents made a desperate plea for mall-goers to keep an eye out for the missing hearing aid.
After our story aired, there was a flood of emails and calls from our generous viewers, offering to purchase a replacement for the boy.
“We weren’t expecting this, we were just hoping that we find his and we are really thankful and humbled by this. I think this is a sign there’s still really good people out there in the world. We’ve been put in touch with so many kind people it’s been a humbling experience,” Pepin said.
An employee at Oticon, a leading manufacturer of hearings aids, was also watching. The employee alerted company executives. PIX11 helped put them in touch with the family.
Coincidentally, Oticon makes the model of hearing aid Everett wears. Oticon, based in Somerset, immediately stepped up to the plate to grant the most important item on Everett’s wish list for the holidays. They will replace the hearing aid for free.
“We heard about it on PIX11 last night,” said Gary Rosenblum, president of the 100-year-old global company.
“It’s a little guy who obviously had this traumatic experience happen at the mall so now he has the opportunity to hear the sounds of Christmas and Hanukkah, all the holidays this time of year, so we thought it was a good idea to reach out see how we can help,” added Rosenblum.
Everett suffered hearing damage from chemotherapy treatments for a form of eye cancer, which he has repeatedly battled.
Without the device, Everett’s inability to hear and understand others affects his quality of life.
“We are in the business of hearing health care. Most people don’t realize how much sound matters in the life of every single human being on this planet. When you don’t have sound, you can’t interact with your environment and this is a kid who at 2-years-old, he’s just learning how to communicate,” Rosenblum said.
Everett’s mom is eternally grateful. She’s also overwhelmed by the response from PIX11 viewers.
“They said Everett should have a new hearing aid before Christmas which is awesome and we didn’t think it would happen. Thank you so much for your generosity, you have no idea how much it means to our family. It’s so hard around Christmastime, everybody has all these expenses and we are expecting twins,” Pepin said.
PIX11 will continue to follow Everett’s story for you. The next step: Oticon will work with the child’s audiologist for a fitting and then they can make a new hearing aid for him.