The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Tornado: Mike Pound

June 1, 2011

Mike Pound: Hearing-aid office providing free service

JOPLIN, Mo. — I was tired Wednesday morning.

Then, I stopped by Don Hicks’ office. After two minutes, I wasn’t tired. Of course, with Don that can go either way. Don can either amp you up or wear you out.

Don has some energy, is what I’m saying.

I stopped by Don’s hearing-aid office at 206 E. 15th St. on Wednesday morning because I heard he was doing a nice thing, only Don doesn’t think he’s doing a nice thing. Don thinks he’s doing his job.

Since the May 22 tornado, Don and the folks at Wilkinson Pharmacy are about the only people in Joplin servicing hearing aids. Don’s son Yogi has a lab where he molds hearing aids and is helping, but Don really is one of the few authorized dealers up and running since May 22.

In the wrong hands, a hearing-aid business rush like this would mean big bucks. Fortunately, Don has the right hands. What Don is doing is repairing and servicing hearing aids for free. He’s also passing out free hearing-aid batteries.

He’s been spending most of his time at his office.

“I worked all day Sunday, and I was here all day Memorial Day,” Don said.

Don probably could have retired years ago, but he refuses to hang it up. He says he would worry too much about his patients if he wasn’t around. Since the storm, Don has taken to worrying about anyone facing problems with a hearing aid.

“They get used to that amplification, and they get sick when they don’t have it,” Don said. “They absolutely get sick.”

While Don and I chatted, he was interrupted several times by phone calls from folks needing his help or from folks with Freeman Health System who were referring people to him. Several of the people who called were from out of town and hadn’t been affected by the storm. But that didn’t matter to Don.

“All you have to do is bring it down here,” he said. “If I can fix it, I will, and there will be no charge.”

By the way, Don wanted folks to have his phone number. It’s 417-624-0931.

The only time Don sounded a bit down was when he mentioned his longtime friend Phil Roof. Phil played 15 years in the major leagues, and then coached in the major and minor leagues until his retirement in 2005. Phil and Don have known each other since their high school days in Kentucky, when they competed against each other in baseball.

On June 8, Phil will be inducted into the Kentucky Athletic Hall of Fame. Even though Don, long ago, made reservations for the induction banquet, he and his wife, Donna, won’t be traveling to Kentucky.

“I can’t make it,” Don said. “I’ve go work to do.”

Wednesday afternoon, I called Phil. I asked Phil to describe Don for folks who might not know him.

“He is a jewel of a human being,” Phil said.

Phil mentioned that Don was one of the first people to lobby the hall of fame on his behalf.

“Don started this four or five years ago,” Phil said. “I would love if they (Don and Donna) were there. If they could make it, I would be honored to have their presence.”

But, unless Donna can change his mind, Don likely will be working in his office on June 8.

Like he said, he’s got work to do.

On another note, Ken Cochran needs some help. Ken is originally from Joplin. He played for and coached with legendary Joplin High School coach Russ Kaminsky. Ken went on to coach basketball at Kansas Wesleyan University and Marymount University in Kansas. In the early 1980s, Ken invented the Pop-A-Shot basketball game.

It’s safe to say Ken has done well, and now he wants to help out his old hometown. Some years ago, using his many connections, Ken raised a lot of money selling T-shirts for the Red Cross in Salina, Kan.

He is in Joplin this week hoping to repeat that success here. All the proceeds from the T-shirt sales will be donated to the Red Cross for its Joplin tornado relief effort. The only thing Ken lacks is a suitable location to set up his T-shirt operation. Ideally, Ken is looking for a parking lot along a major commercial street. If you think you have a spot for Ken, you can call him at 785-452-8966 or at 417-623-8552.

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Tornado: Mike Pound
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