Hayleigh Scott and Netegene Kirkpatrick: An Unlikely Friendship

14 11 2012

HLAA Members Hayleigh Scott and Netegene Kirkpatrick co-authored “An Unlikely Friendship” for the November/December 2012 issue of Hearing Loss Magazine, published bimonthly by the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA). I photographed the feature photo of them at HLAA’s annual conference this past June in Providence, R.I.

With the help of her mom, dad and sisters, Hayleigh started her own business, Hayleigh’s Cherished Charms, where she and her family create hearing aid scrunchies, tube twists, charms and patented clasp ideas for hearing aids and cochlear implants—allowing those with hearing loss to highlight their hearing instruments rather than hiding them. Ten percent of proceeds go to furthering hearing research and education of the hard of hearing and deaf community. Hayleigh first appeared in the January/February 20122 issue of Hearing Loss Magazine, and when Netegene read her story, she e-mailed her and they became fast friends.

Photo © Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

An Unlikely Friendship

by Hayleigh Scott and Netegene Fitzpatrick

Is there really a generation gap among people with hearing loss? We don’t think so. Here, 13-year-old Hayleigh Scott and 68-year-old Netagene Kirkpatrick share how they bridged the gap while a strong friendship grew. They joined forces to help reduce the stigma of hearing loss, spread awareness, and are having fun doing it.

Meeting Netagene by Hayleigh Scott

Netagene and I first met through my business website when Netagene e-mailed me saying she had read about me in Hearing Loss Magazine. She liked what I was doing and ordered some hearing aid charms. I thought it was great that Netagene was interested in being a model of my charms. I have many adult charm buyers but usually it’s the kids who send in pictures wearing their charms. Netagene was willing to put her photo on my website’s customer page. We became pen pals and I learned that she really feels the same way I do about hearing aids and glasses—we both want to have fun!

Netagene and I met in person at HLAA Convention 2011 in Washington, D.C. We talked for a while and got to know each other even better! Then we began sending each other little gifts. She even found pretty beads that she liked and she sent them to me with instructions on how she would like me to make them into charms for her.

One of the hardest things about having my own business is letting people know that I exist. Netagene has been so helpful in sharing what I do with others; she hands out my business cards, wears my charms, was interviewed by a newspaper in her home state of Alabama mentioning my business, and talks about the philosophy that we share. (We are not embarrassed to wear fancy glasses, so let’s make our hearing aids sparkle and shine!)

We kept in touch over the course of the next year updating each other with new things going on in our lives. Then Netagene’s mother died. I sent her a surprise pair of cross charms to wear to the funeral. We then saw each other this past June at the HLAA Convention in Providence, Rhode Island. It was so nice to get to see each other again! The last night of the convention we went out to dinner together and talked about the convention and lots of other things. Netagene is not just one of my favorite customers—she is one of my favorite people. Thank you HLAA for sharing what I do and for helping an unlikely friendship form.

Hayleigh Scott is an HLAA member and entrepreneur from Hollis, New Hampshire, and has exhibited at the last two HLAA Conventions. Her website is HayleighsCherishedCharms.com. Check out her Customer Photos page to see all the happy people, including Netagene.

Meeting Hayleigh by Netagene Kirkpatrick

There was an article about Hayleigh Scott and her business in the January/February 2011 Hearing Loss Magazine. I like to help others—in particular, young people—so I immediately looked up the website for Hayleigh’s Cherished Charms.

As the user of a long white cane (I am high-partial legally blind since 2003), I learned not to be ashamed of carrying one of those, of letting others see and know that I am imperfect. Some friends put a ribbon or some bells on their canes. One year, I taped a string of tiny battery-powered Christmas lights on my cane. Besides, people show off fancy eyeglasses that they wear, so why be ashamed to let others know that you need aids to see, to walk … and to hear!

That’s Hayleigh’s—and my—philosophy about wearing hearing aids. She had written my thoughts on her website, but she went a step farther. She did something about it when she was five years old at that! She started making charms. I went to her website and I immediately ordered the Dragonfly and the Red Cyclops Charms. (So what if I am 68 years old!)

When I got to the hotel in Crystal City for the HLAA Convention 2011, the first thing I did after checking into the hotel, even though I looked like something the cat had drug in (after a long train ride, plus dealing with the Washington, D.C. Metro), was to look for Hayleigh’s Cherished Charms in the Exhibit Hall. I met Hayleigh, her sisters Vienna and Sarah, and their mother Rachel. Sweet! Hayleigh and Rachel both are good about e-mailing their customers. I am not a cuddly, hugging kind of person, but that family is one that even I wanted to take in my arms and hug.

I learned their favorite colors and crocheted little bitty purses for all three girls. I’ve also bought little stuffed animals for them. I wish I could afford to buy more of the charms they make. I’ve mailed some strings of beads to Hayleigh and asked her to make me one pair and then use the rest to make others to sell.

When my mother passed away in 2011 at age 94, Hayleigh made a pair of cross hearing aid charms which arrived the day of my mother’s viewing. I had also told her about some of my past exploits, such as having been a DJ and having ridden a motorcycle. She also made a pair of hearing aid charms for me with a motorcycle on it! I didn’t ask for either pair so both were a surprise.

I keep my hair pulled back so that people can see my charms, and when someone mentions my “pretty earrings,” I take off one of my hearing aids to show them off. I keep a few of Hayleigh’s business cards on hand and give them away. I’ve shown my hearing aid charms to my audiologist and put some of Hayleigh’s cards in the waiting room of the hearing clinic.

I march to the tune of my own drummer and don’t like to be a cookie-cutter person; I like being a bit of a maverick—being unique. And, like Hayleigh and her family, I am proud of who I am and I’m not ashamed to let others know that just like I need aids to see, I also need aids to hear. Maybe amongst Hayleigh, HLAA and I, we can educate some people!

Netagene Kirkpatrick is an HLAA member from Birmingham, Alabama and has attended the last two HLAA Conventions.

Join the Hearing Loss Association of America!
Do you have a hearing loss or know someone who does? Consider membership in the Hearing Loss Association of America. Student annual dues are $20, individual annual dues are $35, and family/couple annual dues are $45. Fees outside the U.S. are slightly higher. All memberships include discounts on hearing-related products, convention and special event early bird discounts, AVIS and Alamo car rental, and the award-winning Hearing Loss Magazine. Sign up for membership here.

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One response

14 11 2012
sharoncrouch

Having had the privilege of meeting Haleigh in D.C. and purchasing an item from her company, it was easy to see how Netagene could form such a union of friendship with this charming young lady. Thank you for this uplifting article.

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