Written by Erica Lunsford, WVLT News
Lady Vol Basketball Hall of Famer and four-time Olympic gold medalist Tamika Catchings is continuing to make a difference in East Tennessee.
Catchings has an Amplification Fund at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center’s Audiology Department, which supports young adults whose insurance no longer covers the cost of hearing amplifiers.
26-year-old Sierra Morris, from Walland, received a new set of hearing aids from the fund.
Morris’ mother Tina Christopher said Sierra has a bilateral hearing loss and she’s been going to UT Hearing and Speech Center to get hearing aids since she was three.
Christopher said last Christmas, one of Sierra’s hearing aids felt uncomfortable so Sierra took it out.
It wasn’t until later, they realized the hearing aid was accidentally gathered in their trash.
“Well long story short, the hearing aid went out with all of the paper to be burned, and then when I came in from burning the paper she says ‘where’s my hearing aid?’ Immediately I just knew it was gone,” shared Christopher.
Christopher said once Sierra turned 21, the insurance for her hearing aids ended, causing she and her family to spend the whole year saving up to pay out of pocket for them.
“They run between $5,000 and $10,000. We’ve been saving up and finally got most of it, and went over to UT to see what they could do and if they could go ahead and at least order them,” said Christopher.
After visiting the UTHSC Department of Audiology and Speech Pathology, they learned about the Tamika Catchings Amplification Fund. Through the fund, Sierra now has a new pair of hearing aids free of charge.
Sierra got a chance to thank Tamika Catchings herself, while talking to her via Zoom.
Hoping to help others with free hearing aids or repairs, Julie Beeler with UTHSC is hoping to help Tamika’s fund grow.
“Tamika is a real giver and she has partnered with our department for a long time because she herself has came to our department for services when she was a student athlete,” shared Beeler.
People interested in donating to the Tamika Catchings Amplification Fund can reach Julie Beeler with the Department of Audiology and Speech Pathology by emailing her at email@example.com.
Click here to watch a video feature and interview about this story.
Originally published by WVLT on October 11, 2021.