Abigail Diuble, 13, of Manchester, Mich., an eighth-grader at Manchester Middle-High School, is working to purchase specialized alarm systems to alert visually- and hearing-impaired people to severe weather conditions and dangerous smoke and carbon monoxide levels. In June 2015, a tornado struck Abby’s home in the middle of the night. Her older sister, who is both visually and hearing impaired, barely made it to safety. “My sister was very hard to wake because she does not wear her hearing aids to bed,” said Abby. “She made it to the basement stairs literally the second the tornado struck.” Although Abby has been raising money with her family since she was a kindergartner to combat blindness, she was so shaken by her sister’s close call that she wanted to do something to prevent this from happening to others.
With the help of her mother, Abby found an alarm system that connects a weather radio and smoke and CO detectors to a bed-shaking device and strobe light, designed to rouse the hearing and visually impaired from their beds when disaster is imminent. She and her family formed a nonprofit so they could accept tax-deductible donations and apply for grants. To publicize her project, Abby built a website, spoke to groups about her mission, and gained the support of area fire chiefs and school district officials. So far, her project has raised $50,000 to purchase alarms, which cost more than $250 apiece. “My goal is to get an alarm system to every kid that needs it,” said Abby.