Texans LB Whitney Mercilus helps boy whose cochlear implant batteries were stolen

HOUSTON – It was a story you saw first on KPRC2.

A family was devastated after thieves broke into their truck and stole key components of the hearing aid implant that allows their son to hear.

The boy went days without hearing, but shortly after the report last week, the response from Channel 2 viewers wanting to help was overwhelming.

“He kept saying ears, ears,” his mom, Amanda Simmons, said the day after the theft.

One of the people who reached out to help 3-year-old Gavin was a Texans football star.

“Football,” Gavin shouted, surprised by the luck of being granted a chance to see his favorite sport at play.

Gavin got to meet Whitney Mercilus at training camp on Thursday, and boy, was he excited.

Gavin smiled while being pushed in a stroller — he and his younger sister, Lola, split the carrier. Simmons, cheered on by Gavin's grandmother, Robbin Simmons, rounded out the family field trip to Texans training camp on Thursday.

Gavin happens to be a huge Texans fan, so when he arrived at training camp, he couldn't contain his excitement.

The very fact that young Gavin, 3, can hear his grandmother speak heralds miracles. He was born deaf. Doctors installed cochlear implants at age 1. By 3, Gavin can hold short conversations, and his speech pattern is increasing, said Simmons.

"Something good came out of something negative," Robbin Simmons said.

Everything in the family's truck was stolen. Someone smashed a window last week while the family was at dinner.

“This is his lifeline to the rest of the world,” Simmons told KPRC2, referring to the implant.

The crook stole a backpack that contained two batteries and a charger for Gavin's cochlear implant.

"We were flooded with calls and emails. I got some. All offering to buy Gavin those new components," his mother said.

One of the inquiries came from one of Gavin's heroes: Texans linebacker Whitney Mercilus.

Gavin got to meet Mercilus at training camp.

It was a quick hello, although the moment is sure to last for some time.

"It's a huge blessing that he even thought enough to bring us out here. He offered to help us out. It is such a blessing. We can't thank him or his foundation enough," Simmons said.

The family took pictures and talked football with Mercilus.

“Go Texans,” Gavin yelled, tossing a football Mercilus gave him, feet from the end zone.

He tossed the ball with mom and grandma before it was time to go.

“Gavin, say thank you,” said Robbin Simmons. 

“Thank you,” Gavin shouted, grin aglow.

“And thumbs up,” Robbin Simmons continued.

“Good job,” finished Gavin.

KPRC would like to give a special thanks to Mercilus and his With Merci Foundation for inviting Gavin and his family to camp.

The family said when they first reached out to KPRC, they weren't expecting anyone to replace what was stolen. They just wanted to spread the word about what happened. Now that they've seen the outpouring of support, they are beyond grateful.

About the Author:

Emmy and Edward R. Murrow award-winning journalist. NOLA born and bred, though #HoustonStrong, with stops in Minnesota, New York, Massachusetts, and Connecticut in along the way.