Fort Worth

Fort Worth boy takes gift from Ellen DeGeneres to Guatemala — and gives it away

Braden Baker of Fort Worth was stunned when he went on the Ellen DeGeneres show last month and she gave him $20,000. to help with his effort to raise money for people who can't afford hearing aids.

Now the 11-year-old, who was born with bilateral sensorineural hearing loss, is in Guatemala, giving out the hearing aids he bought with that money — and the thousands more he raised on his own.

He and his family are in the Panajachel area of Guatemala, with a team of audiologists from Entheos Audiology Cooperative, on a "Hearing the Call" humanitarian trip to give out the hearing aids.

The effort began months ago when Baker, who has worn hearing aids since he was a baby, found that his dog ate his hearing aids for the second time.

He told Ellen DeGeneres, on her show last month, that his "mom actually got really mad at me" once she learned the dog — aptly named Chewey — ate the hearing aids.

His parents told him that hearing aids are far from cheap and some people simply can't afford to replace them.

Baker thought about that and decided to do something to help.

He set up a GoFundMe account, hoping to raise a few thousand dollars to buy hearing aids.

"That's an amazing thing" to do, DeGeneres told him on her show.

But after being featured in People magazine — and appearing on the Ellen DeGeneres Show — Baker ended up raising more than $65,000.

"It's kind of crazy because I never thought all this would happen," Baker said from Guatemala this week. "I kind of thought it might happen to one or two people, but not this many."

And he received an extra special gift on his birthday — someone smiled at him after receiving a hearing aid from him in Guatemala.

"It was my first hearing smile on my birthday in Guatemala, and I never really thought that would happen," he said. "So yeah, it was really cool."

For more information about Baker's effort, go online to www.HearingTheCall.org or oticonhearingfoundation.org.

Anna Tinsley: 817-390-7610, @annatinsley



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