Fall festival to benefit cochlear process patient

Staff reports
Katheryne Hebert

Food, fun and games will highlight a day of festivities to help a Plaquemine girl continue to enjoy a benefit many take for granted.

A fall festival Oct. 29 at the Mike Zito Center will help raise money for Katheryne Hebert receive an upgrade on cochlear implants that provide her hearing.

The event runs from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Hebert, who is 7 years old, is the daughter of David and Nichole Panepinto Hebert of Plaquemine.

Festivities for the event will include a gumbo cook-off, car show, auction, jambalaya dinners and a sweet shop. It will feature live music from Corner’s Edge, Rock Rewind and Blind ambition.

In addition, children can enjoy hayrides, face painting, cupcake decorating, pony rides, a tug-of-war, spacewalk, costume contest and other activities.

Proceeds from the fundraiser will help defray costs of upgraded implants for Hebert, who was born with severe to profound hearing loss.

 “We first tried hearing aids but they did not give her much benefit,” said Nichole Hebert. “At two months old, we learned to communicate with Katheryne by sign language, and this was her primary form of communication until she was a year and a half.”

She has been able to hear since she received cochlear implants, but the processors in each implant must be replaced for her sense of hearing to remain intact.

Each implant costs $8,500.

Cochlear implant surgery bypasses the ear and goes directly into the cochlear nerve.

“This was a life-changing surgery,” Nichole Hebert said.

Katheryne was 21 months old when she underwent her first cochlear implant surgery. One month later, on May 5, 2006, the implant was turned on.

“She was scared, cried, and buried her head in her head in her mom’s chest because she did not know what it was,” Nichole said. “She had to learn what sound was and how to interpret it.”

Over the next year her hearing would develop where she could understand and at one year 6 months she was hearing in the normal range. It was only mono hearing (one sided).

“It was only mono hearing (one sided), so we decided to look into getting her the second Cochlear Implant,” Nichole said. “Then she could get more benefit and hear in stereo (two sided).”

Katheryne underwent her second implant surgery in May 2008, and started the process with the second implant, learning to hear and make out sounds with other side.

Katheryne, attended classes three years at Louisiana School for the Deaf -- two years of pre-K and one year of kindergarten -- from 2007 through 2010.

In the fall of 2010 she would attend regular school at Math, Science, and Arts Academy West a school without sign-language-backed speech for the first time since she was two months old. She would depend on her cochlear implants to hear.

“Without them she is a deaf child and cannot hear anything at all,” Nichole said. “Katheryne’s current processors are outdated and not working properly, they need to be upgraded – something insurance will not pay for.

“That is why we are asking for help to ensure Katheryne will continue hearing,” she said.

Nichole has a sister Kelsey and a brother, Kayde. She is the granddaughter of Harry and Robynn Holtrop, Kim and Connie Badeaux Panepinto of Addis and Dwayne and Melinda Bouquet Hebert of Prairieville.

She is the great granddaughter of Doug Badeaux Sr. and the late Catherine Badeaux, Milton and Catherine Clement and Marie Hebert.