Will the Dalai Lama Travel to Starkey’s Annual Gala?

Will the Dalai Lama Travel to Starkey’s Annual Gala?

The Dalai Lama blessed Starkey’s philanthropic work. Is that a clue that he will make a pilgrimage to the Twin Cities most celebrity-rich summer party?

Every summer, the Starkey Hearing Foundation’s So the World May Hear gala raises money for the philanthropic arm of Eden Prairie–based Starkey Hearing Technologies, which gives more than 130,000 hearing aids a year to people in the United States and underdeveloped countries who don’t have access to or money for hearing care. The gala draws top-tier celebs, or perhaps they are the draw that attracts so many dollars—last year’s fête raised $7.6 million and was attended by Billy Crystal, Chevy Chase, Steve Martin, and former President Bill Clinton—a Starkey hearing aid user as well as a philanthropic partner. But on a recent mission to India, the Starkey team was approached by a different kind of celebrity.

In December the team tested the hearing of and fit hearing aids for monks and children at a Tibetan school in Mundgod, India. Afterward, Starkey founder Dr. Bill Austin and his team met with the Dalai Lama, who was teaching at the school. “He volunteered in his own words that no one can do much alone, [but] together we can change the world,” says Austin. The Dalai Lama also blessed Austin, the mission team, and their work.

While Austin says the guest list for this year’s gala on July 28 includes Virgin CEO Richard Branson, Halle Berry, Ashton Kutcher, and President Clinton, the inevitable question is, will His Holiness show?

Austin says he hasn’t invited the lama to the gala just yet, but “I’ll check his schedule.” And since he didn’t get a chance while on the mission, Austin adds, “Certainly if he comes to the gala, I will check his hearing.”