Watch These Holocaust Survivors Get the Gift of Hearing After Years of Silence
The lives of more than a dozen Holocaust survivors and countless others were changed forever when they were given the gift of hearing as part of an exciting and highly emotional mission at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday.
Professionals with the Starkey Hearing Foundation outfitted patients, ranging in age from four to 93, with state-of-the-art, digital hearing devices - making it possible for some to hear for the first time ever.
Among the 13 Holocaust survivors who went to the Bronx stadium from their homes in Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan was Sofya Berig, who spent the last seven years struggling.
“Before? Before, I don’t hear. (Someone would have to) ask the question two or three times sometimes before I would hear it,” Berig told INSIDE EDITION. “Now I’m fine. I am happy. (I feel) very excited and happy.”
The woman stressed how much the sense of hearing matters, saying: “It’s very important for everybody, because they can explain, they can hear, they can have (a) conversation.”
The Foundation partnered with the New York Yankees, Minnesota Vikings, Wilf Family Foundation and The Jewish Federations of North America to provide hearing aids worth up to $3,000 to those in need, seeing nearly 100 pre-selected recipients and any walk-in who wished to be examined.
“We had a lot of Holocaust survivors today and we had a lot of children from this area that are somehow not getting the hearing help they should have, and we’re blessed to be able to help them,” William Austin, founder of Starkey Hearing Foundation, told INSIDE EDITION.
Mark Wilf, president and co-owner of the Minnesota Vikings, added: “It's a great mission and we're very proud to be a part of it." He noted he had a personal connection to the cause.
“Personally, I'm a child of Holocaust survivors,” said Wilf, who also chairs an initiative at the Jewish Federation of North America to make sure Holocaust survivors live out their remaining years with dignity.
“And with nearly a quarter of the 120,000 survivors in this country living at or below the poverty line, we have to make sure that things, like the gift of hearing, that we all take for granted come easily.”
Yankees great Tino Martinez and head coach Joe Girardi as well as Orange is the New Black star Dascha Polanco were among those who came out to support the cause.
"I think it’s something we do not pay attention to," said Polanco, who works as an ambassador for the Starkey Foundation. "How much for granted we take our five senses… and how fortunate we are to have that. And to be able to be there for that first moment, that’s what pure validation is, when you experience moments like this."
For Shark Tank’s Daymond John, the feeling is one he knows first-hand.
“I actually have Starkey Halos myself, because sometimes ... my hearing is challenged,” John said. “And I have absolutely no problem telling everybody about it. I think that you know, we're all human and we all need as much help as we can get.
“It's very near and dear to my heart, knowing that I have hearing loss," he continued. "Because, you know, I was one of those kids who ran around too close to the speakers and things of that nature, and you don’t realize you have that challenge until you actually put in a hearing device and you realize what you've been missing.”
Five-time NBA Champion Ron Harper outfitted patients for hearing devices for hours, but didn’t mind the work.
“This is one of the greatest causes I've ever been a part of,” he said.
Hearing loss affects more than 360 million people, including 32 million children, worldwide.