It’s finally happening. After weeks and months of planning, the trip I’ve been dreaming about is now just days away. I can almost smell the warm, salty Caribbean air. And I can now share this exciting adventure with all of you.
Over the last year, I covered the Starkey Hearing Foundation several times. Starkey Hearing Technologies out of Eden Prairie, is a leading provider in hearing healthcare. Its foundation works towards a simple mission, “so the world may hear.” Each year, it provides more than 100,000 free hearing aids to people around the world.
Since its creation in 1984 the Starkey Hearing Foundation Bill Austin and his wife Tani have traveled the world to help others. Hearing loss is often untreated because screenings and hearing tests are too expensive or not easily available. Many times the foundation doesn’t have to look farther than its own backyard to help.
The Foundation’s team is on the road about half the year, seeking out people who need hearing aids and getting them world-class help for free. Many celebrities accompany these trips doing hands-on work helping to fit hearing aids. With the help of Hall of Famer Paul Molitor, The Pete Store and FedEx, the Foundation will travel to the Dominican Republic and fit 2,000 people with hearing aids.
Starkey extended an invitation for me to come along and share the experience of their international work with all of you. My best friend Rachael Kleinberger will also be joining me on the trip.
While we were still in high school, Rachael began traveling the world and is now fluent in four languages, including Spanish. She’s also a nonprofit manager with a background in international program management and has overseen educational outreach and health initiatives. While we will enjoy some time leisurely enjoying the island, I feel it’s important to note Rachael and I are paying our own way on the mission and are not receiving compensation from Starkey for the coverage.
I mentioned earlier Hall of Famer and current Twins coach Paul Molitor is partnering on this mission. That’s part of the reason why this trip will be featured in the Twins Blog. Molitor told me he is looking forward to working with Starkey and his first trip to the Dominican. Baseball is widely popular sport on the island. Some of the biggest names in Major League Baseball are from the Dominican, including David Ortiz, Pedro Martinez, Francisco Liriano, Robinson Cano, and Sammy Sosa. Molitor, of course, grew up in St. Paul.
I’ll share more details during the trip but the four-day mission will take us to two cities on the island, Santo Domingo and Santiago. During the trip, I’ll be profiling the mission’s volunteers and patients, as well as sharing pictures and information about the island.
I hope you’ll follow along and be as moved by the work Starkey does as I am. Rachael and I are looking forward to sharing this unique opportunity with all of you. If you’ve been to the Dominican Republic and can share any travel tips, please do. We’ve never been there and are looking forward to seeing what the island has to offer.