L.V. Rogers student Kai Roenspiess was born deaf, but thanks to a cochlear implant he can sustain conversations, hear his surroundings and participate in classes like woodworking and shop that otherwise would’ve been off-limits to him.
“It just makes me feel like I’ve been included,” Roenspiess, 15, told the Star. “If I couldn’t hear I wouldn’t know if the power tools in shop class were on, but now with my processor I can hear my surroundings.”
All of that is thanks to the Variety Club, which had its 50th anniversary telethon this weekend. Roenspiess appeared so viewers can could up on his progress since he last appeared on it seven years ago.
“When I originally approached Variety, I only asked for $2,000,” said Kai’s mother Kris. “But they told me don’t ask for partial, just ask for everything — at that point we’d already cashed in our RRSPs for his initial surgery.”
In other words: they couldn’t have afforded to help him without the help of the Variety Club, which “takes over where BC medical leaves off,” Kris said.
“With upgrades [the implant] can fit behind his ear like a hearing aid. It’s allowed him to hear in a classroom, it’s got a waterproof case so he can go swimming with it. It’s opened a lot of doors for him.”
That’s something both Kai and Kris are enormously grateful for, particularly because it allows him to have a normal teenage social life in Nelson, rather than having to travel to a special school elsewhere.
“Obviously a lot of people at my school don’t know sign language, so that would be a hard situation,” said Kai.
Over the past half century, Variety has raised $189 million that has gone directly to BC children. The telethon ran Saturday and Sunday on Global TV.
Call 310-KIDS to donate or text “KIDS” to 45678. You can also visit variety.bc.ca to make a donation.
Kai aspires to be a builder of some sort.
“I see a great future ahead of me,” he said.