Summarized by Rosemary Pollock
Hark! Pleasant Grove angels giving up Christmas for Riley
Deseret News 1Dec99 D1
By Sharon Haddock: Deseret News staff writer
PLEASANT GROVE, UTAH -- A little girl in SCERA Park Elementary School
has emptied her shoebox of pennies and dimes for a very special
Christmas present for Riley Burwell, a seven-year-old boy in her
class. Several families in the small neighborhood of Pleasant Grove,
Utah are joining her efforts and foregoing Christmas gifts this year
to give Riley a gift of a lifetime.
Riley Burwell was born with nerve damage inside the cochlea leaving
him deaf. He says a few words and it is difficult to understand when he
speaks. His family and young friends have learned to speak to Riley
through sign language. He often signs to his mother, "Stop signing,
Mom! I want to talk!"
Tami and Rick Buirwell feel fortunate that their son is a good
candidate for the needed surgery. "This will certainly be mine and my
husband's Christmas present," said Tami. "He needs to hear."
"That's part of the reason why I know we need to do this," said Tami.
"He's told me several times that he wants to talk."
Time is growing short for Riley to learn and develop his communication
skills. The procedure will require the surgeon to put a computerized
hearing device behind Riley's ear in the bone. The implant will send an
electrical signal to the cochlear, bypassing the damaged nerve endings
through electrodes placed inside the cochlea. The signal will then be
carried to the brain through Riley's undamaged nerve fibers.
The surgery and follow-up therapy is estimated at $45,000. A fund has
been set up through First Security Bank and at Western Community Bank in
Pleasant Grove. An auction is planned for December ll, at the David O.
McKay Special Events Center on the UVSC campus. KISN Radio's "KISN Cares
for Kids" has donated $5,000. Clough Shelton, a physician, is donating
his fee, and the University of Utah Medical Center is discounting its
Members of the Pleasant Grove Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day
Saints 9th Ward have donated their Christmases for Riley. "When I heard
about that," said Tami Burwell, "I ran over so fast, hugged them so
hard!" The Burwell family estimates that $l5,000 has been raised so far
by people volunteering their time and money. The family is overwhelmed
by the public support.