CORBIN -- Mary Partin of Corbin was selected as the winner of Southeast Kentucky Audiology's inaugural Hear for the Holidays contest.
"I was so excited," Partin said on learning she had won the contest. "I just couldn't believe it, I was just so excited. I just started praising the Lord and started thanking Him."
Partin said she learned about the contest from her sister, who had read about it in The Times-Tribune.
The contest, which was announced in October, called for those interested to submit an application, and write a brief (less than 300 words) essay to the staff of Southeast Kentucky Audiology explaining why they needed a hearing aid. The contest also allowed for family members and loved ones to submit applications and essays on behalf of someone they believed needed a hearing aid.
Other parameters of the contest included applicants meeting income guidelines, having transportation to Southeast Kentucky Audiology and not having functioning hearing aids that have been fit within the last five years.
Three non-partial judges were asked to help select the winner of the contest.
"We tried to be, as far as a staff, we really tried to be impartial so that it was really a fair contest," explained Kara Kratzer, AuD. "We wanted to make sure it was somebody that really, truly needed it and that we weren't being biased or picking somebody based on anything personal."
Kratzer also said the contest was aimed at helping those who could not access assistance in affording hearing aids through other programs, and organizations.
"We were looking for people that didn't have another way to get them," Kratzer said. "A lot of people that are working can go through organizations like Vocational Rehabilitation. We work with veterans who get hearing aids through the VA. So it had to be somebody who didn't have another way to access the treatment that they needed."
Like most medical equipment, hearing aids can be expensive potentially causing some with auditory issues to have to go without. Some audiology offices quote $5,000 to $10,000 for hearing aids that includes services, batteries, warranties, etc. This will be Partin's first hearing aid, as she hasn't been able to afford them in the past.
Partin said she has been having problems with her ears and hearing since the 1990s.
"I've had three surgeries on my ears. I had tumors in both ears," Partin said. "Last time I had surgery I got bacterial meningitis, and where it was infected, it went to my brain. So, I've really had a hard time with my hearing."
Partin learned that she was the winner of the Hear for the Holidays contest in November. Kratzer said the hope was to have Partin's new hearing aids to her before the holidays, but due to some complications from Partin's most recent surgery, she had to wait before receiving her hearing aid.
"Just in time for Valentine's Day," Partin said laughing. "I would just like to thank the people that have helped me, especially [Southeast Kentucky Audiology]. I would also like thank my sister, the people who have prayed for me, and Joyce Brown."
Brown is a nurse at the cancer center where Partin receives treatment. She also submitted an application and essay on Partin's behalf for the contest.
Kratzer said her office received entries on behalf of Partin from multiple people.
After learning she was the winner, Partin had an initial hearing test performed at Southeast Kentucky Audiology. Then she had a consultation where the appropriate device was selected for her. Partin will also receive a year of free professional services from the team at Southeast Kentucky Audiology.