Born without hearing, an 11-year-old takes on the National Spelling Bee
By Joe Heim
May 24, 2016
As he walked out of his elementary school last week, fifth-grader Neil Maes heard the clapping from his fellow students lining both sides of the hallways. He heard them cheer and yell his name, and he heard them wish him luck as he headed off to compete in the Scripps National Spelling Bee, which starts Wednesday morning at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in National Harbor, Md.
That the shy 11-year-old from Belton, S.C., can hear anything at all is a testament to technology, to a never-quit attitude and to faith, say his parents, Christy, a preschool teacher, and Peter, an aircraft mechanic.
The Maeses, who found out their son was severely hearing-impaired just days after he was born, have been working nonstop since then to help him have hearing that’s as close to normal as possible.
When the couple learned that their son couldn’t hear, they were in shock.