The Starkey Hearing Foundation, Eden Prairie, Minn, was on the pre-season premier of ABC’s Extreme Makeover: Home Edition on September 17.

On the show, a number of home designers go around the country rebuilding and designing homes for families in need. The November 7, 2005, episode of the show included Marlee Matlin, a deaf actress, who worked with the designers as they designed a home for a family of four—the parents are both deaf, one son is fine and is the glue that holds the family together, and one son is blind and autistic.

Matlin knows Bill Austin, who runs the Starkey Hearing Foundation, and encouraged the show to involve Austin and the Foundation in the 2005 episode.

Matlin was again involved in the taping of an episode of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. The family who’s home was rebuilt on the episode has a 15-year-old son who is hard of hearing. Again, Matlin wanted to get Austin involved.

Instead of just helping the 15-year-old, Austin decided to take two of the show’s designers with him and his staff to Nicaragua, Guatemala, and El Salvador to see what it’s like to help hundreds of children in need regain their hearing. The trip took place in May 2006. The designers included Ed Sanders and Eduardo Xol. They joined 14 Starkey employees and fitted 150 kids in each country—a total of 450 children received more than 800 total hearing aids.

[SOURCE: Starkey, September 2006]