Chase, the 19-month-old son of Matt and Rebecca Cardillo, was born with Type 2 Usher Syndrome, a rare genetic condition that impacts both hearing and sight.
“Chase was born with mild-moderate hearing loss,” the family wrote in a letter to Celebrate Sound, a walk to raise funds and awareness for hearing health. “Ultimately at some point, though largely unknown when, Chase’s eyesight will start to degenerate to the point of extreme tunnel vision and night blindness; he will be legally blind as well.”
The Cardillo family, which is one of countless stories behind the Celebrate Sound Walk, is one of the leading fundraisers for the walk. Their team, “Thrill of the Chase,” has raised over $1,000.
The 1.5-mile fun walk, organized by Tampa Gem Sertoma Club with aid from the USF Sertoma Collegiate Club, will be held Saturday, with the route circling the center of campus.
“It’s a really great way to raise awareness for hearing disorders and things of that nature,” said Amy Davis, a USF speech pathologist and co-advisor of the Sertoma Collegiate Club at USF. “It gets us awareness and also helps us find other funding sources for ourselves for us to then use that in charitable ways.”
Half of the money raised by the walk goes directly to the College of Behavioral and Community Sciences, and half goes back to the national Sertoma branches.
According to event coordinator Diane Warholic, the organization has currently raised $8,500 of its $10,000 goal, not including cash donations.
The money that is given back to USF goes to the USF Hearing and Speech-Language Clinics.
With the $6,000 it has received from the past two walks, the Hearing Clinic was able to put in a hearing loop system that connects with patients’ telecoils in their hearing aids to get better sound clarity.
“That means that anytime they are in that area and turn on their (hearing aid), they’ll be able to hear much better,” Davis said.
The clinics hope to be able to loop more of the facility with the money brought in from this year’s walk.
The money will also continue to fund the Sertoma Collegiate Club’s projects such as their Trunk-or-Treat Halloween event and smaller projects such as putting jewels and designs on patients’ hearing aids to alleviate the stigma of wearing them.
Registration is still open for the event. Students with a USF ID can walk as an awareness walker for free, or can register at CelebrateSound.Org to donate to the cause.