Hampshire High deaf student will be able to hear again
Hampshire High School freshman Maria Niño finally will be able to hear again.
Within a month, Hampshire High School teachers, students and community members have collected more than $16,000 for an external computing device that will help Maria's cochlear implant process sounds.
"I have been so blown away from the generosity of people," said Patti Nihells, a Hampshire High School physical education teacher who organized a fundraiser for the 15-year-old deaf student from Aurora.
The device Maria needs could cost from $9,000 to $12,000. As she doesn't yet have medical insurance other than Medicaid, Maria is using a device on loan from the University of Illinois Hospital & Health Sciences System in Chicago.
Maria's GoFundMe page has collected $1,200, and a walk-a-thon -- organized by David and Nancy Gillies of Carol Stream and held last week at Hampshire High School -- generated nearly $3,500. Donations for the walk-a-thon are being accepted until Dec. 2, Nihells said.
Donations have poured in from throughout the area and as far away as Bubble Springs, California.
Hampshire Clinic donated $5,000 for Maria, while students and staff members at Lake Park High School in Roselle have raised more than $1,500 and pledged to give more to the cause.
"We have had many people wanting to finish off the amount ... whatever it costs," Nihells said. "Many people donated because they could relate to the cause, along with others who wanted to see if their extra cochlear devices were compatible."
Nihells said money raised will be set aside in an account for Maria to pay for the device and other medical expenses.
A portion of the proceeds from a Feb. 19 dodgeball tournament also will go toward Maria's medical expenses. It will be held in the Hampshire High School field house at 1600 Big Timber Road. The entry fee is $15 per person, of which $10 will be donated for the cause. Nihells' cross-country athletes also are selling glow-in-the-dark T-shirts for Maria for $15 through atomapparelusa.com, with $10 per shirt benefiting Maria.
"It has been such an educational experience for myself and so many others in this building," Nihells said. "It warms my heart knowing that there are so many kind strangers out there willing to help another stranger."