Sam Braverman and Alexa Kay are two friends who share a lot in common. Both girls are six-years-old, with two younger sisters each and entering first grade. But perhaps their biggest bond is that both girls suffer from hearing loss and wear hearing aids.
Sam, Alexa and their fellow hearing impaired friend, 9-year-old Eli Reiman, will be joining forces to raise money for New York City’s annual Walk4Hearing, which raises money to support those who are hearing disabled. The three Livingston youths will be manning a lemonade stand on September 15 from 10:30 a.m. – 1:20 p.m. at 16 Broadlawn Drive, across the street from Mt. Pleasant Elementary school.
The funds raised will be donated by the families to the Hearing Loss Association of America. According to their website, "HLAA educates the general public about hearing loss while easing the associated stigma. Striving to make hearing loss a public health issue, thousands of people of all ages, races, and backgrounds have come together to display their compassion for the cause and to make hearing loss an issue of national concern."
Eli was the first of the three to be fitted for a hearing aid. He was 5-years-old when it he was diagnosed as hearing impaired. His mother, Meredith, says she first saw trouble with Eli-s hearing when he was four-years-old. He knows has a hearing aid in each year.
Alexa was the second member of the trio to get a hearing aid. Her mother, Felice, noticed Alexa’s problems at a young age.
“She was two years-old and she was a late talker,” said Felice, when describing how she found out Alexa had a hearing problem. “We took a bunch of tests and when she was four, we realized she was reading lips and taking cues. That’s how we knew.”
Two years later, Sam joined them by getting a hearing aid of her own. Luckily for her, she already had friends with similar problems to help ease the transition into wearing the device.
“When Sam first got her hearing aid, she resisted using it,” said Sam’s mother, Stefanie Braverman. “The first time she got excited about using it was on a play date with Alexa, who was wearing hers.”
Stefanie credits Sam’s pre-existing friendship with Alexa as a reason that Sam eventually became comfortable using the hearing aid.
“They have a friendship that has zero to do with the fact that they both wear hearing aids,” said Stefanie. “So when Sam sees Alexa, it’s reassuring for her and their confidence is helped by knowing that they are not alone.”
The three families will be participating in the Walk4Hearing in New York City on September 30. For the Kay family, this will be their first time at the walk, but the Braverman and Reiman families are returnees.
"It's a fun event, we like it," said Meredith Reiman. "It's nice to be around people who also have hearing aids and to let Eli know that he is not alone and that others are just like him."
For the girls, this will be the first time the two friends are walking together, something which they are excited about. The pair met in Temple B'Nai Jeshurun's Preschool and have remained close ever since.
"It's fun that we have each other," Sam Braverman said about her friend who will be walking with her.
For Sam, she is most excited to see all the different exhibits at the event, including one on sand art. Alexa is excited about going to New York City, a favorite destination of hers.
"I was blown away by the impact and size of the event after seeing what it was," Stefanie said about last year's walk. "It made Sam so happy to see others were just like her."
The lemonade stand will be held on September 15 from 10:30 a.m. – 1:20 p.m. at 16 Broadlawn Drive, across the street from Mt. Pleasant Elementary school.
While funds raised by the lemonade stand may not be large amounts, Stefanie Braverman believes that "it's not the amount that makes the impact, but it's the act that makes the impact."
Residents interested in more information can contact the families at SamAlexa6@gmail.com.