Celebrities, philanthropists and leaders from across the globe gathered in St. Paul on Sunday, July 16, to celebrate the 17th Annual Starkey Hearing Foundation So the World May Hear Awards Gala.

More than 1,500 guests – a record for the Gala – filled the ballroom of the RiverCenter to reflect on the contributions of generous donors and supporters who helped Starkey Hearing Foundation continue to break down barriers and transcend borders around the world to spread the gift of hearing. Noted as one of the most celebrated events in the country, the Gala raised more than $7 million. Funds support the Foundation’s community-based hearing healthcare programs and other global strategic initiatives.

The past 12 months saw significant growth and expansion of the Foundation’s international missions and patient contacts, and marked momentous milestones in the expansion of hearing healthcare services across Africa. In December 2016, the inaugural class of the Starkey Hearing Institute graduated as Hearing Instrument Specialists. Students were recognized on Sunday night. The Foundation also broke ground on a pioneering health clinic in Dakar, Senegal, that will serve as a hub for Starkey Hearing Foundation in West Africa. At the domestic level, the Hear Now program continues to provide hearing devices to those in need.

Gala honorees included: Ben Affleck, award-winning actor and director who founded the Eastern Congo Initiative, an advocacy and grant-making initiative working with and empowering the people of the war-ravaged central African country; Her Excellency Madam Esther Lungu, First Lady of Zambia, an advocate for the Foundation and a driving force for establishment of the Starkey Hearing Institute; Wilf Family Foundations, who teamed up with Starkey Hearing Foundation in 2015 to provide hearing aids to more than 100 people in New York, including 15 Holocaust survivors; Scott and Sandi Borchetta of Big Machine Records and Music Has Value, for their longtime involvement with Starkey Hearing Foundation; and FedEx Corporation for its FedEx Cares Program and commitment to invest in over 200 global communities by 2020.

In true Starkey tradition, the night was filled with a star-studded lineup of special guests and entertainers. Comedian Sinbad emceed the event, while performances by Steven Tyler, Darius Rucker, John Fogerty, Grace VanderWaal, ARIA, and Portia Clark had the audience on its feet throughout the evening.

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