May 20, 2018 - The Midwest Ear Institute, MEI, a division of the Saint Luke’s Marion Bloch Neuroscience Institute, held the first annual Luncheon on Friday, May 17th at the Kauffman Foundation Conference Center. This new event raised funds critical to the mission of MEI. In addition to providing expertise in the field of cochlear technology, the Midwest Ear Institute also participates in numerous clinical trials annually, offers state-licensed audiologists and speech-language pathologists, each having advanced degrees in audiology or speech-language pathology, and can perform sophisticated evaluation and treatment for balance disorders.
Rebecca Alexander, best-selling author, speaker, and extreme athlete, was the featured speaker at the luncheon. Born with Usher’s III Syndrome, a rare genetic disorder, Rebecca has been simultaneously losing both her sight and hearing since she was a teenager. Despite these difficulties, Rebecca refused to lose her zest for life and has risen above every challenge she has faced. Now, with significantly limited sight and hearing, Rebecca is a psychotherapist with two master’s degrees from Columbia University. She teaches spin classes and regularly competes in extreme endurance races. During lunch, Rebecca shared her story as well as her unique outlook on her condition.
Prior to the luncheon, Rebecca appeared on FOX4’s morning program to share her story, and to encourage others facing challenges in their lives to persevere. As a result of that media appearance, three families with children with Usher’s III Syndrome reached out to Saint Luke’s about the possibility of their children meeting Rebecca during her visit. The opportunity for these kids to connect with someone facing some of the challenges they do every day was truly inspiring.
Maddox has a cochlear implant. He and his mother shared their journey with Saint Luke's Midwest Ear Institute at the luncheon as well. Watch his story below.