When Zane Stewart was five years old, he was diagnosed with severe hearing loss in each ear, which denied him the ability to be understood by his family.
Now at 13 years old, Zane has made incredible progress working with speech therapists at the Marshall University Speech and Hearing Center (MUSHC). His mother, Alissa Stewart, said Zane has come a long way since she adopted him from China eight years ago.
"When we brought Zane home, I knew there was a bigger problem than just a language barrier," Stewart, executive director of Goodwill Industries, said. "Once we found out about the hearing loss, I immediately sought help. I know we wouldn’t be where we are today without the Speech and Hearing Center."
Zane is one of many children who have been helped over the years through the Scottish Rite Childhood Speech and Language Program at Marshall University. Due to the improvements in his speech, Zane was chosen as the 2016 Scottish Rite Poster Child and will be honored at the annual Scottish Rite dinner on Tuesday evening. Since 2002, the Scottish Rite program has provided comprehensive services to children with communication disorders, without regard to creed, race or a family’s ability to pay.
Al Rigsby, president of the Scottish Rite Foundation, said the organization has raised over half a million dollars since its inception and has given much of that to Marshall University.
"Everything we do is for the kids because there’s always going to be a child with speech or hearing problems," Rigsby said. "You just never know when you can make a positive difference in someone’s life. As long as we keep filtering money into Marshall, we will continue to help change lives for the better."
Zane said he is very excited to be chosen as this year’s Scottish Rite Poster Child. He said he is very grateful for what he’s learned at the MUSHC.
"I want to thank them because they work hard with me. I have fun when I come here and I learn a lot," Zane said. "When I grow up, I want to be an artist. A book artist maybe."
The 9thth annual Scottish Rite Spring Dinner will be held at 6 p.m., Tuesday, April 19, at the Don Morris Room in the Marshall University Memorial Student Center. Guest speaker Maggie LeGrand will share her story, which tells of her sons’ remarkable progress after both were diagnosed with severe speech disorders.
All proceeds from the dinner will directly benefit the Scottish Rite Child Speech-Language Program through the Speech and Hearing Center, which serves as a training site for students in the Department of Communication Disorders at Marshall University. Tickets are still available and can be purchased through the Department of Communication Disorders in the College of Health Professions by calling 304-696-3640.
Photos: (Above) Zane Stewart, 13, was diagnosed with severe hearing loss in both ears shortly after he was adopted from China. Zane (left) works three times a week with speech-language pathologist Shae Dean (right), who also serves as clinical faculty in the Department of Communication Disorders. (Below) Zane (right) was adopted from China in 2008 and has since struggled to learn the English language due to his hearing loss. His sister, Jade (left), and his mother, Alissa (center), agree he has made incredible progress since coming to the Marshall University Speech and Hearing Center.