Two Penticton brothers are now enjoying a quality of life they could never have imagined even just a year ago.
Dante, 16, and Drew Boileau, 14, were born with a severe inherited impairment resulting in a 70 per cent hearing loss.
Growing up in small-town Alberta, their mother began teaching them sign language, which was fine until they began school.
At the time, education officials wanted the parents to sign documents stating the Dante was “mentally handicapped” so they could apply for additional funding to help him.
However, according to his father Daniel, that was not going to happen.
“Of course, I refused because I didn’t want to put that label on him,” he said. “It was difficult enough without putting him through that.”
It was around then the family decided to move to B.C. where they hoped the children would have a better opportunity to succeed.
Although they continued to have to use the older-style hearing aid, they eventually met up with teaching assistant Jill McCullum through the school district.
The relationship eventually led to the connection with Variety The Children’s Charity and the start of significant changes in their lives.
“They (Variety) have been fantastic,” said Daniel. “They purchased some new high-tech hearing aids for my two boys, which was great because the ones they had before were not so high-tech.
“The new ones are a lot smaller so you can’t see them, so not only is it better for them to hear, I think it’s also better for their self-esteem.”
Because of the positive impact this has had on the brothers, their story will be among those aired during the 46th annual Show of Hearts Telethon this weekend on Global B.C.
Not surprisingly, Daniel is urging people to pledge whatever they can.
“You hear a lot of Variety this and that, but when you’re a part of it, it really makes you feel differently,” he said. “I would not have been able to afford these without Variety’s help. I just can’t pull $5,000 out of thin air, but the amount that it helps them is beyond any price.”
Drew also expressed his appreciation.
“I just want to say a really big thank you (to Variety) because this has really made a huge difference in everything I do.”
Meanwhile for Dante, who attends Penticton Secondary School, the small size of the hearing aids means he will be able to wear them under his helmet when he plays football again next season.
“It basically helps me in every aspect of my life, not just at school, but at home as well,” he said. “I’m very grateful and I encourage people to donate to Variety, not just four our benefit, but for all the others as well.”
The brothers are both excited — and a little nervous — about being on television, but are looking forward to what promises to be a fun weekend.
The telethon begins at 7 p.m. Saturday and runs through to 6 p.m. Sunday. Pledges can be made by calling 310-KIDS or by visiting www.variety.bc.ca.