Fund set up to help Brody McAfee 1/17

January 18, 2002

Fund set up to help Brody McAfee 1/17

By Bob Maginnis

Brody Michael McAfee is a happy little 15-month-old, according to his grandmother, even though he doesn't talk and has just started trying to walk. He's having difficulty with both because he was born with a severe hearing loss in his right ear and only partial hearing in his left.

He's been fitted for hearing aids at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, but can't get them until the family raises $5,100. Although both of his parents work full-time, neither one's insurance will cover that cost.

"I babysit for him all week," said his grandmother, Faith McAfee, of Falling Waters, W.Va. She says the Maugansville child's hearing loss doesn't seem to bother him, although an inner ear problem related to his condition makes it difficult for him to stay balanced enough to walk.

"He's not walking yet. That's a problem that goes along with his hearing problem. He does try to walk from person to person. He's really trying," she said.


According to McAfee, doctors at Johns Hopkins inserted tubes in his ears, hoping that would restore some of Brody's hearing. It didn't, and they decided to try hearing aids. But they're not cheap.

Children learn to speak by imitating sounds they hear, which is why the speech of some deaf people can sound strange to those who have normal hearing.

"I think he'll learn quickly, once he gets his hearing aids," McAfee said.

Antietam Pediatric and Adolescent Care, where Brody's doctors work, gave me the following statement:

"During Brody's first year of life, it became apparent he was not speaking. After testing, we realized Brody had a hearing impairment, the cause of which is still unknown. He will require hearing aids to prevent further delay in his development."

If you can help, please send a contribution to:

Brody McAfee Fund, Account No. RN3415104, Johns Hopkins Medicine, Division of Audiology and Speech Pathology, 601 N. Carolina St., sixth floor, Baltimore, Md. 21287.

On the school redistricting front, as I predicted in this past Sunday's column, the Washington County School Board declined to make Paramount and Potomac Heights parents unhappy by rejecting a plan to move some children at those schools to Paramount Elementary.

In lieu of that, board members Bernadette Wagner and Roxannne Ober have told me they're committed to the idea of making Paramount and Fountaindale "sister schools," with one designated for kindergarten through second grade, while the other would hold third, fourth and fifth graders.

Back in 1994, Wagner, who was not in office then, made the same suggestion, but was told that it couldn't be done at the same time as redistricting. The idea got lost in the shuffle then, and there are many who would not be unhappy to see it meet a similar fate again.

Andy Smith, president of Brothers United Who Dare to Care, has been running a project to repair and donate home computers to people in Hagerstown's Northwest Central area, to help connect children to the world and get more citizens involved in community affairs.

To that end, the black citizens organization has now set up a Web site. The address is The site contains a history of the group and information about its various projects.

Smith said that one obstacle to getting more people on-line has been a drop-off in the number of donated computers. If you've got an old one that they can repair and donate to a family, you can read about the project and how to get involved on the Web, or call the group at (301) 393-9290.

Yesterday, The Herald-Mail published a letter from local attorney Ken Mackley complaining about TV ads, a letter which quoted his wife Corrine, who once worked as an advertising salesperson at The Herald-Mail.

Mrs. Mackley said that he didn't show her the letter in advance. Had he done so, she said, she would not have okayed a line which quoted her as saying that advertisers "keep hitting the viewer reader over the head with the same line or ad."

Repetition is a tool advertisers use, she said, just as Coca-Cola has repeatedly used the image of cola-drinking polar bears to sell its products.

"People retain information better through repetition. And it's not bad and it's not hitting people over the head," she said.

J. Michael Nye, interim director of Community Rescue Service, has ticked off so many people in his quest to get a secure funding source for his group that I almost believe that some would rather see CRS go under just so he'd fail as well.

Nye is no diplomat, but he began his quest for funding more than two years ago by calmly pointing out that CRS handles more than half the country's emergency calls, in a territory full of people without insurance or the means to pay for ambulance transports.

Now cash-poor, the CRS board is contemplating layoffs and some employees are calling for Nye's head. But it's not Nye who hasn't addressed this problem, but the local fire/rescue association and the county government. Trash Nye if you must, but what this situation needs is a solution, not another couple of years spent on expensive consultant studies that only confirm the status quo.

Bob Maginnis is editorial page editor of The Herald-Mail newspapers.

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