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Sertoma Club helps child hear for first time

By By Steve Gillespie / staff writer
Oct. 8, 2002
Nearly a year ago the local Sertoma Club contributed $2,000 to help Sara Beth Shumate gain something she was born without her hearing.
On Monday, the club was visited by Sara Beth, 2, and her family, at its regular weekly meeting. Now she is learning to hear and speak at the Magnolia Speech School in Jackson and with the help of her family.
Sara Beth had cochlea implant surgery in September 2001 because her cochlea, part of the ear that sends transmissions to the brain, did not function properly.
An electrode system was implanted into the cochlea and is attached to a magnetized implant in the side of the head. A microphone is attached outside her ear by using the magnetized implant.
Sara Beth "hears" through the microphone.
Sara Beth's parents, Chandra and Sam Shumate, and their two other children, Andrew, 5, and Annaleigh, 3, moved from Laurel to Jackson so the family could be closer to the school Sara Beth needed.
Kathy Irving, an audiologist at Magnolia Speech School, showed the club a video of Sara Beth's progress in class and with a speech therapist.
She said children who receive the implant early are usually able to catch up with the development of other children quickly.
The video showed Sara Beth responding to music and direction and repeating words and phrases.
Judy Hammack, audiologist with the Meridian Speech and Hearing Center, was also at Monday's meeting. After seeing the video, she called Sara Beth's progress incredible.
The Sertoma Club's contribution went toward Sara Beth's school expenses. One of the club's primary goals is to raise money for the hearing impaired.
Brian Finnegan of Meridian is Sara Beth's grandfather and a Sertoma Club member. He held Sara Beth in his arms at the start of the meeting Monday and thanked his fellow club members for their help.