Elri never imagined she would encounter a mermaid in real life. But for this 12-year old with hearing loss who lives in a rural Australian town, the encounter was one she and her family won’t forget. Nor will Viktorija, the Cochlear employee who arrived in Elri’s town, Yelarbon, dressed as a mermaid while driving 4261 km (2647 miles) across the outback as part of a 10-day charity car rally to support children with special needs.


Car Rally for Charity

The Variety Bash car rally has become an iconic Australian event which sees hundreds of volunteers drive cross-country to deliver donations and supplies to disadvantaged children. The event is part of Variety the Children’s Charity, an international charity that has raised more than $2 billion and helped four million children globally for more than 90 years.

This rally was particularly special for Viktorija; she was on a mission to deliver two Cochlear™ Wireless Mini Microphone 2s, which had been donated by Cochlear, to Elri who is a pupil at Yelarbon State School.

“It was wonderful to meet Elri and her family, and the Yelarbon school principal and teachers. It was great to be able to help Elri in such a practical way, to be more successful in her school classrooms – a real Cochlear Family experience,” says Viktorija.

Cochlear employees standing with their car donating Mini Microphones to school in the Australian outback

Two Mini Microphones Make School Transitions Less Disruptive

Antjie, Elri’s mother, added that receiving two Mini Microphones from Viktorija “reminded me of a truth that I have learned at the start of our journey with Elri: we are just normal people raising a very special person, and it’s humbling because we are supported and surrounded by special people.”

She says that by having two Mini Microphones, there is no need to hang it around Elri’s neck as she moves between classrooms. Having two Mini Microphones also means Elri doesn’t need to remember to hand it to each teacher, which can be disruptive. Now, since Elri’s Baha® 5 Sound Processor can be connected to two Mini Mics her math and English teachers both have one.

Elri, Nor will and other Cochlear “mermaids” standing together with donates devices.

Also, each Mini Mic has a remote control to connect it to the Baha 5 Sound Processor, so when Elri enters the classroom, the teacher can connect their Mini Mic while Elri is barely aware of it and there is no disruption to the class.

“It’s a big advantage,” Antjie says.

If your child can benefit from accessories like the Mini Mic, visit our accessories page.  

Anna Martinez
Anna Martinez is the Associate Volunteer Engagement Manager and has worked for Cochlear since 2016. She is responsible for communication and onboarding with the Cochlear volunteer community. Anna is a Colorado native and enjoys being outside in the beautiful weather with her son.