By Nicole Crosbie
Top names in music, sports, film and television showed their support for The Starkey Hearing Foundation at its 11th annual “So the World May Hear” gala on Sunday night at the St. Paul RiverCentre.
The Starkey Hearing Foundation, based in Eden Prairie, aims to support hearing research and education while giving the gift of hearing to people around the world. Each year, The Starkey Hearing Foundation provides more than 100,000 hearing devices to people in need who normally couldn’t afford hearing instruments. Funds raised at the gala support both domestic and international hearing missions.
Founder and CEO of Starkey Laboratories Bill Austin said that the event is about more than just raising funds; it’s about promoting a message of respect.
“We’re trying to promote the concept that we’re all brothers and sisters,” Austin said. “There are 7 billion of us on the planet. We’d better find a way to get along with each other if we want to have a future for our children and our grandchildren. We’re trying to share that caring and that’s what the whole concept is about. ‘So the World May Hear’ is really so the world may understand that we’re all human and we all need to respect.”
Musical performer Garth Brooks said that the passion and commitment of Bill Austin and his wife Tani motivated his involvement in the organization.
“I’m here because of Bill and Tani Austin. They’re angels walking among us and they show you how to do philanthropy right,” Brooks said. “These guys are truthfully interested in helping children no matter what the child’s color is or where they’re born-it doesn’t matter. That’s why I’m here.”
Jordin Sparks, who performed at the 2010 gala, said that her career as a musician inspired her support the Starkey Foundation.
“For me, music is everything. It’s my entire life. It’s everything I do; it’s my livelihood. If I couldn’t hear, my entire world would go blank,” Sparks said. “I’m involved with this organization because I want to be able to give that gift [of hearing] to everybody else.”
This year attendees enjoyed performances by Miley Cyrus, Garth Brooks, Reba McEntire, Meat Loaf, John Rich and Kevin Costner and Modern West.
Actor Chris Massey said that the musical performances are one of the most exciting components of the gala.
“Starkey always has an amazing gala and I think that every year something will surprise you,” Massey said. “They always have the greatest performances as well, so it’s just going to be a good, fun night. I can’t wait to see Miley.”
Each year, The Starkey Foundation honors men and women for their humanitarian efforts. This year, honorees included President Bill Clinton, Oscar-winning actress Marlee Matlin, photojournalist Doug Pitt and Chairman and CEO of Pentair Randall Hogan.