Elton John performing at the Starkey Hearing Foundation event. (Photo credit: Kathleen Smith)

At the annual fundraiser held by Starkey Hearing Foundation, Eden Prairie, Minn, performances by Elton John, Billy Crystal, Tony Bennett, and Gladys Knight helped raise more than $5 million, which will be used in part to distribute 50,000 hearing aids to children in need worldwide, according to the company.

The ninth annual “So the World May Hear” awards gala was held on July 12 at the RiverCentre in St Paul, Minn. John capped off the evening with a 1-hour performance featuring hits such as Rocket Man, Your Song, Daniel, and Circle of Life. A live auction included a hearing mission trip to Kenya to fit 5,000 people with hearing aids, which earned the evening’s top bid of $250,000, says the company.

Award recipients included comedian Norm Crosby; the 1961 New York Yankees, who were represented by Moose Skowron, Whitey Ford, Ralph Terry, Bob Turley, and Mickey Mantle’s son David Mantle; Minnesota philanthropists and business leaders Marilyn and Glen Nelson, MD; and Rayovac, a long-time supporter of the Foundation.

Additional celebrity guests included performers JC Chasez and Sam Moore; actors Lou Ferrigno, Verne Troyer, Sean Pyfrom, and Robert Culp; TV personalities Alan Kalter and Paige Hemmis; astronaut Buzz Aldrin; golf legend Arnold Palmer; Southern Methodist University head football coach June Jones; songwriter Paul Williams; Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty; Minnesota Vikings head coach Brad Childress; Minnesota Vikings trainer Eric Sugarman;and University of Minnesota head basketball coach Tubby Smith.

Starkey Hearing Foundation delivers hearing instruments via hearing missions in 86 countries. Its hearing conservation program, Sound Matters, educates the public about responsible listening. Since 2000, the Foundation has distributed nearly 340,000 hearing instruments to those in need around the world, says Starkey.

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[Source: Starkey Hearing Foundation]