Keith Bench needed batteries for his hearing aids. But due to a recent stroke, he had to rely on the kindness of others to get around.
Kristin Fowles was driving into Salem for lunch on a chilly Wednesday afternoon when a man pulled into the road and pulled her over.
He waved his cane in the air and yelled at her to stop, so she pulled up beside him.
“He says, ‘Could you please drive me to the Salem pharmacy? I have to get some hearing aid batteries,'” Fowles recalled on Saturday. “I don’t usually take strangers with me, so I was a little suspicious – so I started recording just to be sure.”
On the way to the pharmacy, Fowles learned that the man was very deaf and she had to yell to speak to him. She also learned that the man – 88-year-old war veteran Keith Bench – had recently suffered a stroke and had his driver’s license revoked as a result. And his wife, who suffers from macular degeneration, is also unable to drive.
“So he’s kind of trying to get around and ask people for help,” Fowles said.
When they got to the pharmacy, he bought new batteries – but they turned out to be the wrong size for his hearing aids. So Fowles brought Bench home to his wife to plan the next move.
“When we walked in she said, ‘Where did you pick him up? Where did you find this guy?’” Fowles said. “I was like, ‘Well, he kind of found me.’ And they’re just a fun couple, really, really cute.”
Bench’s wife explained that his original pair of hearing aids were supplied by Veterans Affairs, but one broke quickly after he received them. The couple sent their broken hearing aid to the VA Clinic in Orem a few weeks ago but hadn’t heard anything about when it would be replaced.
Meanwhile, Bench’s wife had found an old pair of hearing aids in a drawer in their home, which she told Fowles dated from 1954.
“Those were the ones he wanted to make work,” Fowles said. “So we put the battery in from the one hearing aid he had from the VA and it kind of worked. And then he could hear me a little bit better and then he took me and showed me his shop.”
Bench makes woodworking projects, like wooden fountains and other bells and whistles. He thanked Fowles profusely for helping him and gave her a picture of Santa for her troubles. But Fowles decided to take it a step further and put Bench’s story online.
“I have an Instagram for my son who was battling cancer, and so I just went onto that platform and just said, ‘Hey, let’s get Keith some hearing aids,’ and it just blew up,” Fowles said .
As of 4:30 p.m. Saturday, a GoFundMe set up for Bench had raised Fowles $13,700 of its original $3,000 goal.
“I’m absolutely blown away by the amount of people that have come forward,” said Fowles. “Just people giving a little bit here and there, and people reaching out and saying, ‘Can I get him a new coat? Can I fill his pantry? Does he need new shoes? What other needs does this family have?’ So he touched the hearts of so many people in such a short time.”
Fowles visited Bench and his wife on Saturday to update them on the fundraiser and to let them know that a hearing aid manufacturer has reached out to offer Bench free hearing aids.
“I really want to say a big thank you to you and the people who have helped you,” Bench said in a video posted to Fowles’ Instagram page. “You have no idea how much I appreciate that.”
https://www.sltrib.com/news/2022/11/12/salem-woman-was-stopped-middle/ A Salem woman was pulled over in the middle of the street by an 88-year-old man in distress. Now she has raised over $13,000 for him.