Georgia teen dedicated to bringing the gift of hearing to everyone
Hearing is a gift that many people take for granted, but those with hearing loss know that it can cost thousands of dollars to buy a hearing aid.
Eighteen-year-old Jack McConnell was diagnosed with hearing loss as a newborn and has worn hearing aids since he was just 6-weeks-old.
"I've worn hearing aids my entire life, I was born with hearing loss. when I was 11 years old I felt God calling me to use my hearing loss as my God-given gift to help the hearing impaired all over the world," said Jack.
"20/20 Hearing financially supports families in the United States that can't afford to pay for their children's hearing care and internationally we partner with the Starkey Hearing Foundation to give people hearing aids all over the world," said Jack.
His passion has taken him in front of the United Nations to speak about access to hearing.
"You know there is 466 million people all over the world that suffer hearing loss have access to hearing care," said Jack.
A bill signed into law May 8 by Georgia Governor Nathan Deal is even nicknamed 'Jack's Law.' It requires that private insurers cover the cost of hearing aids for children in Georgia.
Something that wasn't available when Jack was a baby, according to Tanya McConnell, Jack's mom.
"Hearing aids are not cosmetic, which is how many insurance companies list them," said Tanya. "They're medical devices that allow him to connect academically, socially."
So since Jack expressed his dream to help others, she's been there to support him along the way.
"Jack is able to use something some people see as a burden and use it as a gift," said Tanya.
Jack's now partnering with senior centers across Georgia, including the Dalton Whitfield Senior Center where Shirley Hamrick learned about the 20/20 Hearing Foundation.
"I wear a hearing aid, I've been wearing one about 22 years now," said Hamrick.
She said it can get lonely without a hearing aid.
"You feel isolated if you can't hear what's going on around you," said Hamrick.
She's one of the seniors who donated an extra pair of hearing aids that will help Jack provide hearing for people across the world.
"They're taking part in changing a child's life in Ghana or changing a mother's life in Nicaragua," said Jack.
But Jack's journey helping others is far from over.
"I want to create companies, technologies, and systems to help people all over the world when I'm older," said Jack.
Jack is going into his senior year of high school at a private school outside of Atlanta. He's going on college visits across the southeast. He hopes to one-day design hearing aids.
If you want to learn more about the 20/20 Hearing Foundation, click here.