Inspiring Man Who Lost Vision + Hearing Helps Others Hear (and gets sweet surprise from Rach)

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An inspiring man who is both blind and hearing-impaired is on a mission to provide expensive hearing aids to deserving and qualified men, women and children across the country. 

When he was just 8 years old, Mitchel Shapiro of Long Island, New York, discovered that both he and his sister needed hearing aids. 

Years later when he was 24, Mitchel got into a car accident and learned from a specialist that he had retinitis pigmentosa (RP), in which cells in the retina break down slowly over time, causing vision loss. 

“Combine that with hearing loss, that’s called Usher syndrome [where you lose both your vision and hearing],” Mitchel explained. 

“Just imagine what life would be if you didn’t have your hearing and you don’t have your vision. Imagine having kids and not being able to see their beautiful faces, or being able to hear their cries [when] they need your help with something,” he added. “These are the many things that go through my mind all the time.” 

In 1995, Mitchel didn’t know what to do with his life, and refused to accept a job at a hardware store because “nothing made any sense to me at that time.” 

“Who would keep a guy that’s going blind and deaf?” Mitchel thought.  

However, Mitchel decided to take action. He got involved with the Long Island chapter of Foundation Fighting Blindness, an organization raising funds for vision research. After offering to do public relations and community outreach, Mitchel eventually became the chapter's president where he helped raise over $1 million. 

In 2004, Mitchel teamed up with a man who owned hearing aid centers and formed Help America Hear, a non-profit that provides hearing aids to low-income, qualified individuals.  

“Since 2009, we have fit over 1,800 people around America with hearing aids,” he said. 

“My goal is to provide hearing aids around the country to as many people as we possibly can, and most important, to bring more people together to help us on our journey in raising money and creating awareness on hearing loss.” 

After hearing his story, Rach and John told Mitchel that Lexie Hearing, who provide over-the-counter heading aids, are donating $10,000 to Help America Hear. 

Additionally, the two — who have personal ties to the issues of vision and hearing loss — surprised Mitchel by personally matching Lexie Hearing’s donation. 

“I can only say thank you, thank you, thank you. You have inspired me 10 times over,” Mitchel said.  

“You inspire us, Mitch,” Rach said in response. 

For more information and to find out whether you or a loved one qualify for a hearing aid, go to

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