Covington father rallies community support for son’s cochlear implant surgery: Goodbee/South of Covington

I am a firm believer that paths cross for a reason. As a woman who struggles with (and often whines about) a moderately severe hearing loss, I was destined to meet Hammond resident and self-employed carpenter, David Byrd. Byrd, owner of David’s Home Care and Repairs, is totally deaf and has recently been approved for a cochlear transplant.

There is one major problem: The procedure, and rehabilitation that follows, costs a whopping $40,000 and Byrd has no insurance.

This is where a father’s love comes into play. The elder Byrd, Mike, is actively raising funds to enable his adult son to hear. Mike Byrd recently decided to raffle a two-day hunting and fishing excursion in Livingston, Ala., with proceeds going to cover his son’s medical expenses.

He already has raised $6,000, but still has a long ways to go.

Now, the Byrd family is giving everyone in St. Tammany Parish and the greater New Orleans area an opportunity to help.

The raffle is for a trip to Dream Lake Lodge, owned by Harvey and Lisa Kelley of Mandeville. Tickets are $20 each or six for $100, and can be purchased by contacting Mike Byrd.

Only 1,500 tickets are being sold, and the drawing for the winner will be held on July 4 at the lodge in Alabama.

“I want to hear deer as they walk through the woods,” David Byrd said.
Mike Byrd stressed that even though his son was equipped with his first hearing aid at age 1, David Byrd has come to a point where the devices are no longer a benefit to him. He has worn “powerful amplifications for years and years but they are no longer helping,” Mike said.

The next logical step in such a case, provided someone is cleared for the operation, is the implant which is also sometimes referred to as a bionic ear.

While at first glance this may sound like “just another fundraising story,” it is so much more. Spending an hour with Mike Byrd gave me only a small glimpse at this man’s enormous love and compassion for his son.

He explained that his family moved to Covington when has son was young and David’s mother, Pam, managed to homeschool David through the 12th grade. Once David Byrd completed high school, he enrolled in what is now the Louisiana Technical College and later received his certification in carpentry from the Covington vocational school.

“Since then, he has been self-employed,” Mike Byrd said, adding that his son’s road has not been an easy one but he has been encouraged and emotionally supported by his family. That support is quite obvious.

Mike Byrd, an accountant in Covington, works as his son’s “office.” He orally assists in setting up jobs for the younger Byrd and they constantly text throughout the day. As he interprets via sign language for his son, it is apparent that the two are a team, and that the elder Byrd’s idea for the raffle was one designed to help enhance David’s life.

Since our conversation was so close to Father’s Day, I could not help but see Mike Byrd as an incredible dad who would do anything for his son. He has worked as David’s ears for years, and now he wishes for his son to have “working” ears of his own.

In addition to his carpentry business, David Byrd also donates his time and skills to help others. He recently made a trip to Jamaica with fellow church members to repair and construct houses on the island. While showing me photos from his trip, David Byrd pointed out a hearing-impaired man he met while on the mission. He leaned in close to explain his plans to send the man his super-amplified hearing aides “after his surgery.”

The surgery will be the first of any kind for David, but he is anxious about the procedure. “I want to hear deer as they walk through the woods,” he said.

I have to admit that although I am not a hunter, I felt a special kinship with David yet I was extremely humbled by the whole experience. His life is one of struggles, yet he has finished high school and become a successful businessman, and he is extremely optimistic about his future.

Shame on me for the times in which I have felt sorry for myself.

To purchase raffle tickets or assist the effort in any way, call Mike Byrd at 985.373.8001.