On any given day, you can find most 10-year-old boys throwing a ball around outside, riding their bikes, or playing video games with friends. But Braden Baker isn’t your typical 10-year-old boy. Not long ago, he decided to spend his free time on launching a GoFundMe campaign, in order to raise money for hearing aids for those families that cannot afford ones themselves.
Braden is a hearing impaired 5th-grader from Fort Worth, Texas. His mom, Ashley, tells Babble that they first learned about his hearing loss during his newborn hearing screening. After extensive testing, Ashley explains that “he was diagnosed with bilateral sensory neural hearing loss, which has a high percentage of getting progressively worse.”
Unfortunately, Braden’s dog Chewy found his hearing aids on the floor and destroyed them — not once, but twice — and they had to be replaced. But at $3,500 to $6,000 a pair, this was a costly mistake.
But just like with any mistake, there was a valuable lesson to be learned. Ashley tells Babble that the family sat Braden down and had a long talk about taking better care of his hearing aids, explaining just how much they cost and how they’re not covered by insurance.
“We really drilled that lesson in his head that he’s lucky we can buy another pair and that some people can’t afford to just go get a new pair,” Ashley shares.
Those words clearly stuck with Braden, who was floored that not every child who needed hearing aids could even afford them. So recently, the 10-year-old took it upon himself to start a GoFundMe page to raise money for those who aren’t so fortunate.
“We weren’t sure that he’d actually do it,” Ashley tells Babble, adding that Braden made a video to go on the page to explain why he wanted to raise money. “We weren’t really sure how it would turn out. He began with an initial goal of $1,000. We woke up the next morning after the page went live and Braden had raised $400.”
Ashley says this encouraged him to start making even more videos. Fast-forward a few months, Braden’s GoFundMe page has raised over $15,000, which Braden donated to the Oticon Hearing Foundation, the brand of hearing aids that he uses. Ashley says that money will be used to help other families finance hearing aids for their children. One of those families is local to Fort Worth (a request made by Braden himself), and Braden will have the privilege of presenting the girl her new hearing aids in a few weeks.
The process has not only taught Braden the value of money, but according to his mom, “he’s learned that if you put a small idea out into the universe, amazing things can happen. Children can have a voice.” Ashley says she also hopes her son understands the value of being “of and for others,” and will remember the lessons this experience has given him.
GoFundMe was so struck by the selflessness and generosity Braden has shown, the campaign site has named him GoFundMe’s Hero of August (a very well-deserved award, if you ask me). Braden and his family have also connected with Dr. Kamal Elliot at Oticon, who does mission trips to provide free hearing services and hearing aids to children all over the world and may be joining her on her next trip.
As for Braden’s advice to other campaign organizers looking for ways to give back to others? “Don’t give up! Any small idea can get really big.”