Imagine never hearing the crashing waves. Imagine never hearing the falling rain. Imagine never hearing “Happy Birthday” sung to you on your special day, and never even hearing the comforting sound of your parents’ voice.
That is the reality for Daniel and Heidi Shaw’s 1-year-old daughter, Estefany Shaw. Born without the ability to hear, she has lived in silence since her birth.
“I thought of all the things that could be wrong with a child – this was one of the least complicated. I looked at it as a chance to learn a new language,” Daniel Shaw said, whose family already speaks English and Spanish.
“She is an abnormal 1-year-old. Everyone who meets her says there’s something special about her. She’s not shy at all, she’ll crawl, or walk now, right up to people she meets. She’s a very happy baby,” he said. “Her intelligence level is above the average 1-year-old. She knows about 20-plus signs and can put together sentences, where a normal 1 year old baby can only say one or two words.”
Daniel said a signing instructor comes to his house weekly to teach Heidi and Estefany sign language. He learns from his family if he isn’t there to participate.
“American sign language is for the most part pretty self explanatory for the children’s signs. For example the sign for animals really is the mimicking of the animal. She teaches me new signs. I had been gone for five days and this morning she woke up and was pointing at a light and making the sign for light, but I didn’t know what she was doing. My wife Heidi had to tell me she wanted the light turned on.”
In order to give their daughter the gift of sound, the Shaw’s immediately began looking into cochlear implant surgery. “We knew hearing aides wouldn’t help her in any way at all,” he said.
According to the American Academy of Otolaryngology Web site, a cochlear implant is an electronic device worn on the outside of the ear, which restores partial hearing to the deaf. The damaged parts of the auditory system are bypasses by the device and the nerve of hearing is stimulated. This allows extremely hearing impaired people to receive sound. The device is different from a hearing aid in that it doesn’t make the sound louder or clearer, simply available. But the cost of a cochlear implant device, including evaluation, surgery, device and rehabilitation is estimated at around $40,000, according to the Web site.
Shaw said Estefany’s first ear surgery is planned for Nov. 17 in a Los Angeles hospital. As for returning for an implant for the second ear he said they would see how the first surgery went, but the second surgery would be “about a $50,000 out of pocket expense.”
In order to help the Shaw’s raise the funds needed to pay for the implant surgery, a local company has planned a special event.
Ernie Ball, Inc., one of the world’s leading producers of guitars, strings and accessories, presents Balloween Charity Music Festival. Along with several other local businesses they are hosting “A Special Night for Estefany Shaw,” this Saturday, Oct. 28, from 6:30-10 p.m. The event takes place in downtown San Luis Obispo at the Mission Plaza.
Brain Ball, involved with both marketing and artist relations for Ernie Ball, said he was never approached to plan the event, but did it for a friend.
“Basically he’s my best friend who’s had an unfortunate situation. He moved to Guatemala to do social work, fell in love with a girl, married her and got her pregnant. They moved back to San Luis together and had the baby, but she was completely deaf. I saw my best friend handle the situation like a hero. He was never pessimistic about it but was receiving no outside help,” Ball said.
It was then that Ball looked for ways to help. “Part of my job at Ernie Ball is artist relations. We have around 700 endorsed artists and I’ve become good friends with a lot of bands,” he said. Ball asked MXPX to participate for this great cause and they said they would “do it as a favor.”
MXPX will perform a live concert as part of the event. Resination and The Pathetics are also scheduled to perform. Other businesses including Firestone Grill, Moondoggies, Boo Boo Records, Guitar Center and Bulls Tavern are providing support. Ball said UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Chuck Liddell will attend the festival and raffles will be held. A 21 year and older beer garden will be on site as well.
“I think it (the charity event) is great,” Shaw said. “I work in the community and help people out everyday.” To have something done for him in return is what he considers the whole point of having a community.
He said he hopes the event also helps to raise awareness about this type of surgery because there are a lot of people who would benefit from it, but there’s a certain lack of support within the deaf community.
“I’m giving my child more options. If she wants to be deaf and rely solely on sign language then she can take out the implant and never use it again. But I want to be able to give her that option,” he said.
All ages are welcome at the event and tickets are on sale at Boo Boo Records in San Luis for $10, but they are limited.
“Ticket sales are strong,” said Shawn Hafley of Boo Boo Records. Hafley said the store originally received 100 tickets for the event but that batch sold out in the first few days. They have since received a batch of 500, and those too are selling well. All proceeds from the event will go to help pay for Shaws upcoming cochlear implant surgery.
“If you’re looking for a great way to ring in the Halloween weekend this is a perfect place to come,” Ball said.