PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - Everyday life for a Phoenix grocery store cashier became an immense struggle when he couldn’t afford help for his hearing impairment.
Brandon, who works as a lead cashier at Sprouts Farmers Market in Phoenix, relies on reading lips to interact with customers; his hearing aids purchased nearly 10 years ago stopped working. Without an ability to hear well, a pin that says “I am Deaf,” lets shoppers know of his hearing impairment.
A fellow employee named Lisa wrote to Arizona’s Family Surprise Squad, explained that Brandon couldn’t afford the cost of nearly $5,000 to buy new hearing aids. Co-workers describe Brandon as bright, caring, funny and a good leader.
“I just really was trying to think of a way to help him," Lisa said. "That’s why I thought of the Surprise Squad."
Arizona’s Family Surprise Squad went undercover to surprise Brandon at his store; 3TV anchor Gina Maravilla posed as a customer at his register.
Hidden cameras captured their interaction.
“Do you read lips? Yeah? My daughter has a hearing impairment,” Maravilla said while Brandon began scanning her groceries. “Do you hear at all?”
“I don’t hear anything at all,” answered Brandon.
The cashier came across a red box with a bow on it and became puzzled after not seeing a bar code on it.
“I think the price is inside,” said Maravilla.
Brandon opened the box revealing a certificate for brand new hearing aids.
With a look of disbelief on his face, the cashier stood speechless.
“I’m Gina Maravilla from Arizona’s Family Surprise Squad. Somebody here at your work told us about you and said that you could use some hearing aids?” she said.
“Yeah," uttered Brandon.
“Well our friends at Zounds Hearing heard and they want to give you the top-of-the-line hearing aids,” exclaimed Maravilla.
“Oh my God. Thank you,” said Brandon as he broke down into tears amid applause and cheers from other employees and shoppers.
Tears filled Brandon’s eyes as his co-worker Lisa embraced him.
“Are you all right?” she asked.
The cashier nodded his head.
“Can I give you a hug?” Maravilla asked.
As the two embraced, a sense of relief came across Brandon’s face.
“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."
“But they’re never covered by insurance, are they?” Maravilla asked knowingly.
“No. A lot of them go for $3,000 or $5,000. I wasn’t sure how I was going to do that,” said Brandon.
“The gift of hearing, what will that be like when you get that?” asked Maravilla.
“I have a big circle of friends and they like to talk so I always feel left out of things," he said. "I can’t wait for that to be over, Be able to hear and be part of that."
When asked how soon he would make his appointment to get fitted for his new hearing aids, Brandon didn’t hesitate to answer.
“Quick!” he exclaimed.
Zounds Hearing founder Sam Thomasson greeted Brandon when he arrived for his appointment.
“It’s great to meet you and we’re excited to show you what our latest hearing aids sound like," he said. "They are state of the art. We’ll get you fitted so you can hear for yourself."
Shauna Lostumo, a Zounds Hearing manager, administered several hearing tests.
“The hearing aid that we fit you with today is called the Senza 32. It’s also the most powerful hearing aid, so we’re able to accommodate your fitting range and give you the most power that you need,” she explained.
With the new hearing aids in his ears, Brandon quietly smiled and whispered, “I can hear. Thank you, Lisa.”
Arizona’s Family Surprise Squad then gave Brandon a gift of $1,000.
“Thank you, guys.”
Brandon then turned to Thomasson and Lostumo and expressed his gratitude.
“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."
“I felt blessed that I was able to give my friend something that he really needed,” Lisa said.
Arizona’s Family Surprise Squad is powered by your Valley Toyota Dealers.