Clarke Boston’s annual Cocktails with Clarke event aims to bring donors, families and local businesses together and raise awareness and financial support for children who are deaf or hard of hearing and learning to listen and talk.
The evening consisted of camaraderie amongst friends and new faces, a raffle with exciting prizes, delicious hors d’oeuvres and drinks from Trillium Brewing Company and a powerful testimony about a friendship that blossomed at Clarke Boston.
Two Clarke students, Liam and Brigid, met at Clarke Boston in 2018. Their families told the endearing story which pulled on the heartstrings of attendees.
Liam was born with bilateral profound sensorineural hearing loss and received his bilateral cochlear implants at 10 months old. His family learned about Clarke from their early intervention speech-language pathologist. Immediately after touring Clarke Boston, the family enrolled Liam in Clarke’s toddler program.
“The staff at Clarke were incredibly supportive and provided a wealth of knowledge as we started Liam’s hearing journey,” said Katie, Liam’s mother.
Katie believes Clarke gave Liam the most incredible foundation that has set him up for such success. Since graduating Clarke, Liam is currently a second grader thriving at his mainstream school! He’s an avid reader, a Cub Scout in the Wolf Den, takes tennis and dance lessons, and loves animals and nature!
“I am so grateful for Clarke because it teaches kids like me with cochlear implants how to speak and listen. I loved that the teachers there are all super nice and kind. Miss Hill, Miss Gill, Ms. Murphy and Mrs. Doherty all taught me so much! There are so many kids just like me there and I love that,” said Liam at the event.
Arguably, Liam’s favorite gift of all is the gift of his friendship with Brigid.
“Brigid is my best friend in the whole wide world. She is kindhearted, super sweet and she is really amazing at understanding me. I am so lucky we met each other at Clarke and to have her as my friend for life. I love you, Brigid!”
Brigid’s family also shared their story, explaining that Brigid was born prematurely with a high likelihood that she would have a hearing loss. Several weeks later, Brigid failed the newborn hearing screen. Shortly afterwards, she underwent her first ABR and was informed she had typical hearing on the left side and a profound hearing loss on the right. The family was overwhelmed and unsure what to do next.
Brigid and her family then found Clarke, where they participated in the tVisit Teleservices Program for early intervention. “The services not only set Brigid off on the right path, but empowered us as a family to learn how to best help Brigid and advocate for her needs,” said Melissa, Brigid’s mother.
Shortly after, Brigid’s hearing slowly began to decline.
Brigid received a cochlear implant on the right side. Just a few weeks after activation, Brigid lost the remainder of her hearing on the left side. She had surgery for her second implant a few months later.
Soon after, Brigid enrolled in Clarke Boston’s Preschool Program. Brigid’s mother shared how nervous her daughter was on the first day of school, “She was so nervous walking in the front door. Upon entering the classroom, this sweet, kind little boy with a smile that lit up the room walked over, took Brigid by the hand and guided her into the classroom. In that moment, a beautiful friendship began.”
Over the past several years, the school-based friendship forged at Clarke grew, and Liam and Brigid are celebrating six years of laughing, silly moments, making lots of fun-filled memories and cherishing every chance they have together.
Melissa affirms, in each other, Liam and Brigid have also found a confidant—somebody to talk to, who can fully relate to what it’s like to navigate living in a hearing world as only another person with hearing loss can, “Clarke helps children to connect and make friendships that are empowering and stand the test of time. We are so grateful for their role in creating this incredibly special friendship and bond.”
Brigid closed the event with a few endearing words, “I have a very good friend from Clarke who graduated and is now an alumni reader. His name is Liam. We have known each other for the longest time. He is a very good friend. Liam is kind and appreciates people for who they are. I feel so happy when I see him. I love Liam very much and he is my best friend in the whole wide world.”