MOORE — Juanito Corona has been getting frustrated with his mom lately.
The 3-year-old boy has to repeat things a few times before his mother, Bunny White, can hear him. Sometimes, he just takes her by the hand and shows her what he wants, White said.
“It's kind of like being in the dark sometimes,” White said.
Now, after the Minnesota-based nonprofit Starkey Hearing Foundation and the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center replaced the hearing aids she lost in the May 20 tornado, White can hear better than she has in months.
White runs a child care center from her home in Moore. As the May 20 tornado bore down on the town, she sat huddled under a desk with the children at the center, singing to keep them calm. She sang “Jesus Loves the Little Children” and “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.”
After the storm passed and she made sure the children weren't hurt, White drove them as far as she could, then walked them through piles of broken glass and twisted metal to the corner of SW 149th Street and S May Avenue, where parents came to pick them up.
Somewhere along the way, White lost one of her hearing aids. She still isn't sure what happened to it, she said, but she thinks one of the children might have bumped it out of her ear when she was carrying them.
Although everyone in her family survived the tornado, it left her home and the pool house she uses for the child care center badly damaged. The tornado ripped out several trees, and left the home with electrical problems and broken windows.
Since then, White and her husband, a contractor, have been hard at work fixing the damage. Although they've cleared away the trees and made some repairs, there's still work to be done. The windows still hadn't been replaced on Thursday, she said.
After a few months without them, White knew she'd need to buy a new pair of hearing aids eventually. But the hearing aids would cost her thousands of dollars, she said. With the family's house still in need of repairs, replacing the hearing aids wasn't a high priority.
Then, White heard about the Starkey Hearing Foundation's Hear Now program, which provides hearing aids to patients who can't pay for them. White applied for the program, and the foundation gave her a pair of new hearing aids.
Suzanne Kimball, a doctor of audiology at OU's College of Allied Health, said the college works with the foundation once or twice a semester. After the tornado struck, the foundation contacted the university offering to replace any hearing aids that had been lost or damaged in the storm.
After the foundation donated the devices, the college provided the clinical work White needed for free, Kimball said.
White was at the college Thursday to have her new hearing aids adjusted. She still gets tearful when she talks about the storm. Although she and her husband still have a lot of work left to do to get their home back to normal, gifts like her new hearing aids make the recovery easier to manage.
“I'm not used to asking for help,” she said.