For Brandon, it was just another day at work. The Sprouts Farmers Market in Phoenix, where Brandon is a cashier, was crowded. The line was beginning to form at Brandon’s station.
But Brandon’s job was made more challenging because he is deaf, relying on reading lips to ring up his customers. He wore a pin that said “I’m Deaf” to help customers understand the situation.
Brandon used to have the help of hearing aids, but they hadn’t functioned in ten years. “The hearing aids I had, they stopped working,” he said. “They were old hearing aids that were given to me. They were just falling apart.”
Brandon was unaware that, hidden in his check-out line was a surprise — one that would dramatically change his life. It came in the form of TV anchor Gina Maravilla, and what she did was caught on camera and would move everyone around them to tears.
Maravilla was a part of Arizona’s Family Surprise Squad, an organization powered by Arizona’s 3TV CBS station and Toyota Dealers. The goal of the organization is to travel around the area, bring happiness to those in need.
The Surprise Squad was secretly contacted by Brandon’s co-worker, Lisa. She told the group about Brandon’s need for hearing aids that, at $5,000, were just too expensive for him to buy. “I just really was trying to think of a way to help him,” she said.
The Surprise Squad sprang into action. Maravilla made her way into Brandon’s check-out line, posing as a customer. As she approached him, Brandon mouthed what he always did, “I’m deaf.”
Maravilla then began to tell Brandon that her own daughter was hearing impaired and asks if he could hear at all. He said that he couldn’t. Hidden cameras capture the scene as Brandon, unaware that his life is about to change, continues ringing up groceries.
Suddenly, a small red box came scooting down the belt, and as Brandon tried to find the scan bar, Maravilla casually tells him that the price might be inside of the box.
As he opened the box, the shock of what he saw was written all over his face.
Inside the lid was the gift. The folks at Zounds Hearing had generously donated hearing aids for Brandon, and not just any aids. They offered him the top-of-the-line products, aids that Brandon would never have been able to afford on his own.
Brandon just continued to look in disbelief. Once the reality sunk in, he began to cry with happiness. “Oh my God. Thank you,” he said. All around, people shared hugs and tears of joy.
Maravilla and her crew were choked up at the scene. Brandon began to talk about how so many times he had felt left out by his hearing friends, not always able to join in. A new life awaited him — a hearing life.
Brandon wasted no time in making an appointment to have his new hearing aids fitted. He was greeted by Zounds Hearing founder Sam Thomasson.
As the new aids were placed in Brandon’s ears, he smiled and said, “I can hear you.” He expressed his gratitude to the staff.
“You guys did wonderful so I’m really happy to have these hearing aids,” he said. “I didn’t know what I was going to do without them. I really appreciate it.”
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