Former President Bill Clinton will speak about his personal struggle with hearing loss at an Aug. 13 celebration of the Lexington Hearing and Speech Center's 50th anniversary, the school announced Thursday at its preschool graduation.
The celebration will kick off a $2 million fund-raising campaign to replace the school on North Ashland Avenue.
LHSC board chairman King Offutt announced at the preschool graduation ceremony that Clinton will speak about his experience wearing hearing aids and the importance of communication.
"I never thought an institution of our size could get someone this big, but he believes in our cause," Offutt said.
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LHSC board member Abby Dobson is the daughter of Jerry Lundergan, a former Kentucky Democratic Party chairman who is a friend of Clinton.
LHSC offers day care, preschool and kindergarten programs for hearing- and speech-impaired children, said Lori Shepherd, the center's associate executive director.
"The goal is to make sure that our students are ready to start first grade in a mainstream school," she said.
The center has a waiting list because its building can't accommodate all the students who want to attend, Shepherd said.
Although there is no location in mind for a new facility, LHSC officials hopes they will be able to increase the number of preschool classrooms from three to five and add a technology lab, Shepherd said.
In the past few years, the board has been aggressively pursuing ways to improve the school, including building a new facility, said Jason Collier, a board member whose son has attended the center for three years.
Collier said "it's absolutely phenomenal" that Clinton is coming because his presence provides a great opportunity to raise awareness about LHSC's cause. "We are honored that he has chosen to do that for us," Collier said.
Clinton agreed to come without charging the school, and he has no other engagements planned while in the area, Offutt said.
The celebration will take place at the R.J. Corman airplane hanger in Nicholasville, Offutt said. Tickets can be purchased beginning next week on LHSC's Web site, www.lhscky.org, Shepherd said. Individual tickets will be $500, and VIP tables will range from $10,000 to $15,000, she said.