Vikings Owner/President Mark Wilf and Owner/Vice Chairman Leonard Wilf on Wednesday took pride in helping the Minnesota-based Starkey Hearing Foundation provide free hearing aids to more than 80 people in need, including 15 Holocaust survivors at Yankee Stadium.
The annual hearing mission hosted at Yankee Stadium since 2010 benefitted from teamwork between the Vikings, Yankees, Starkey Hearing Foundation, the Wilf Family Foundations and the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA). Recipients ranged from 4 to 93 years of age.
Mark Wilf and Leonard Wilf took pride in helping Starkey Hearing Foundation provide free hearing aids to more than 80 people in need, including 15 Holocaust survivors at Yankee Stadium.
"For us, it's something personal and important, but I think it's a lesson every one of us can draw from," Mark Wilf told ESPN.com's Ben Goessling. "That collective memory [of the Holocaust] is very important. The fact of the matter is we're very privileged to be in the position we're in, in business and the sports world. With that privilege comes responsibility. This is one area we can really make a difference in people's lives, and at the same time, educate the public."
Mark, who previously served as the National Campaign Chairman for the JFNA, is currently vice chair of the organization's board of trustees and is leading a new initiative to address needs of impoverished Holocaust survivors who live in the United States. He and his brother, Zygi, are sons of Holocaust survivors.
"To make this incredible thing happen is very meaningful," Mark said. "Great things happen out of great partnerships, and together with the New York Yankees, it's so fulfilling to be part of it."
The National Holocaust Survivor Initiative links support from foundations, private citizens, and federal, state and local governments to help aging Holocaust survivors live their final years with dignity and security in the comfort of their communities.
"Being part of a family who are Holocaust survivors, this is an extremely important cause," Leonard Wilf said. "There are over 30,000 survivors in the U.S. who need assistance, and under Mark Wilf's leadership we are raising funds to meet their social service needs through Jewish federations. Accordingly, if we can play a role in bettering the lives of these survivors and children in need, we need to participate. We appreciate the opportunity Starkey Hearing Foundation has provided for the Vikings organization and our family to join forces with the Yankees on this endeavor."
Starkey's experts provided customized, state-of-the-art digital hearing devices that comfortably give recipients the opportunity to hear. Yankees manager Joe Girardi, former players Tino Martinez and Lee Mazzilli, NBA champ Ron Harper, television personality Daymond John, actress Dascha Polanco assisted with the fittings.
"Starkey Hearing Foundation has been hosting an annual hearing mission at Yankee Stadium since 2010, and we are excited to return to New York again this year," said William F. Austin, founder of Starkey Hearing Foundation. "Thanks to the continued generosity of the New York Yankees, the Minnesota Vikings and the Wilf Family Foundations, we are able to make a tremendous impact in the lives of nearly 100 New Yorkers. This year's mission is especially meaningful because we are able to share the gift of hearing with Holocaust survivors, helping them to connect to their families and communities."
Lonn Trost, Yankees chief operating officer and general counsel, said the Yankees were pleased to host the mission again.
"It is an honor to have a part in providing a better quality of life for New York-area children and Holocaust survivors," Trost said. "We congratulate the entire Starkey team on their tireless efforts to provide complimentary hearing devices to those in need around the world."
About Starkey Hearing FoundationStarkey Hearing Foundation uses hearing as a vehicle to reflect caring and change lives around the world. Disabling hearing loss affects more than 360 million people, including 32 million children, worldwide, yet many do not have access to the hearing devices that can help them. As a member of Clinton Global Initiative, Starkey Hearing Foundation has pledged to provide more than one million hearing aids to people in need this decade and currently gives more than 175,000 hearing aids annually. In addition to giving the gift of hearing through worldwide hearing missions, Starkey Hearing Foundation promotes hearing health awareness and education through the Listen Carefully campaign and provides hearing instruments to low-income Americans through the Hear Now program. Started as the philanthropic effort of Starkey Hearing Technologies, Starkey Hearing Foundation was founded by William F. Austin in 1984. For more information on Starkey Hearing Foundation follow them on Facebook and Twitter, or visit www.starkeyhearingfoundation.org