There are certain people and organizations who have reached out to me in my life since my youngest daughter, Ally, was born, who have been helpful and supportive in helping me learn more about Microtia and Atresia and in helping me follow my passion. Below are some of the “thank yous” that I wish to make known because so many of you have helped Ally and me get to where we are now:
Thank you to my two beautiful daughters, Hailey and Ally. You have both touched my heart in so many ways, more than I could have ever imagined. I love you both so much and I only want the best for you. I have learned so much from watching you grow before my eyes. You amaze me everyday. You are both such happy little girls and I admire and adore your spirit for life. Every time I see you smile, I feel such wonderful energy throughout my body. If it weren’t for the both of you just being who you are and being yourselves, I probably would have never founded our support groups. They always say there is a reason why things happen and I believe that reason is you! I love you!
Thank you to my best friend who is the love of my life…my wonderful husband, Brent. You have been right here by my side supporting me in everything thing we have done for Ally. Thank you for being patient with me for all of the lengthy hours I have spent on the computer and with organizations while creating the Microtia and Atresia Support Group on Facebook and Ear Community.com. Thank you sweetheart for all of the hours you spent putting into building our website and helping me get it up and running. Most of all, thank you for understanding that I needed do this for our Ally and wanted to do this for all of the children and adults just like her. You have helped me so much with everything. I love you sweetheart – Thank you!
Thank you to all of my friends and family for being there for Brent and me. Especially, for being there for our Ally and for accepting her just the way she is. Thank you for not treating her any differently. Thank you for all of the good laughs we have had with Ally and for being there for me when we weren’t laughing. I know Ally is loved very much and every one of you will be there for her no matter what. I love each and every one of you – Thank you!
Thank you to Karen Smith, the Executive Director of the Broomfield Community Foundation, a 501c3 nonprofit organization here in Colorado (USA). When I wanted to take the Microtia and Atresia Support Group to the next level and become a charitable organization called Ear Community, Karen Smith listened to what my passion and dreams were for wanting to help Microtia and Atresia families. On August 16th, 2012, Karen and the Broomfield Community Foundation board of directors voted to help Ear Community as a fiscal sponsor that would be able to help give back to the community and the world under the wing of the Broomfield Community Foundation, as a charitable organization with 501c3 status. Thanks to Karen and the Broomfield Community Foundation, Ear Community has been able to help hundreds of families and give back to the community in many countries, helping loved ones born with Microtia and Atresia. Thank you Karen for being my mentor and my guide…I have learned so much from you. Thank you for understanding what it was that I wanted to do for our community and the world. Ear Community would not be where it is now if it were not for you meeting with me in 2012. Thank you for listening and thank you for your support!
Thank you to Dr. Sanya Richardson, Ally’s audiologist. I guess it is really true when they say “the third time is the charm” since you were our third opinion we sought. You have helped Ally in so many ways. Ally can currently hear better because of you Sanya. You have also helped me grow in so many ways too. If it weren’t for you, I would not know what I know today about hearing loss and hearing aids. I would also like to thank Linda Cox and Cheryl Johnson, two more audiologists who helped me understand how the brain allows one to hear. I would not have been able to provide all of the informative feedback to all of the members of our support group if it weren’t for all of you answering my questions and getting me the answers I needed for Ally – Thank you!
Thank you to Judy Delaware (OT), Betsy Gerich (PT,) and Linda Mustian (SLP), all of Ally’s therapists through Imagine, the Early Intervention program for our city/county. I have watched all three of you help my Ally come so far. Ally is thriving and it is thanks to you! You have helped me help her in ways that I could not have known how to. Thank you also to Heather Forsyth, coordinator for Imagine. Without you and your team evaluating Ally since the beginning and getting the IFSP process started for us, Ally would also not be thriving today. Thank you all for being there for me too, as Ally’s mommy, and in supporting me with my beliefs, thoughts, and ideas – Thank you!
Thank you to our pediatrician, Jana Wynett. Dr. Wynett, thank you for being so wonderful around both Hailey and Ally. In addition to the girls just loving you, you have been such a breath of fresh air and a relief for me as a parent as I see how you have taken the time to learn more about Microtia and Atresia for Ally. You have been wonderful at listening to me, helping provide suggestions, and always hearing what my concerns are for Ally. I really do believe you are on our side and you have been such a blessing as our pediatrician in trying to help me get the best care for Ally, and Hailey. Thank you for being wonderful you!
Thank you to Simone Cheadle. Simone is a mother of a child with Microtia and Atresia and she was the first mother to help reach out to me helping me begin understanding options for my Ally. You are such a wonderful, caring, and considerate woman Simone, one whom I will never forget. When I was lost in the beginning and did not know what to do for Ally, you began answering my questions in an on-line support group just like ours (the Yahoo Atresia/Microtia group). You helped me realize I wasn’t alone. You showed me pictures of your beautiful daughter, Chelsea, helping me realize what Ally will be like in the years to come. Thank you for showing me pictures of Chelsea’s ear and for helping me so I can help Ally. You are an inspiration to me – Thank you!
Simone has a beautiful blog about Chelsea and her experience with Microtia and Atresia. Simone is also the author of two wonderful children’s books about Microtia, “”Chelsea & Her Little Ear Make A New Friend” and “Chelsea’s New Ear.” Simone works for the Hear and Say Center in Australia where she continues to work with children who are deaf and hard of hearing.
Thank you to the following parents: Lynn Marie Whitenight, Veena Hockridge, Sarinah Tran, Kim Givens, Angela Sabal, Carlos Jimenez Blancarte, Sheri Bryne-Haber, Jamie Guerrette, Daisy Garrison, and Tiffany Wilke. These are some of the very first parents of children with Microtia and Atresia who reached out to me helping me learn about the BAHA and told me about early intervention services when neither one of these options were mentioned to my family in the beginning. They helped answer so many of my questions and thanks to them I believe I can make the best decisions for my Ally. All of these parents have either created websites for their children, help host surgical conferences in their countries, have beautiful blogs, helped to pass the hearing aid bills in their state, or have written articles to try and help promote awareness about Microtia and Atresia better. – Thank you!
To Alan Raffauf, Curt Gorman, and Tine Schou and Oticon Medical’s amazing team…THANK YOU for your support and for all that you have done to help Ear Community and the members within the Microtia and Atresia community around the world. I am so very thankful for you understanding what my dream was to help individuals with Microtia and Atresia and hearing loss. You are helping me and the members within Ear Community’s network and support groups around the world in so many wonderful ways, including hear better with the amazing hearing devices you donate through Ear Community. Thank you for believing in me and for helping support my efforts to promote self advocacy, parent advocacy, and patient advocacy for loved ones with Microtia and Atresia and hearing loss. You have also helped me and Ear Community bring families together around the world and put smiles on so many faces. Thank you for all that you have done and for all that you continue to do. It is such a relief to know that true passion and warmth still exist behind corporate organizations – Thank you!
Thank you to Oticon Medical, Cochlear Americas, Medtronic, Stryker CMF, and Sophono for helping support me in my efforts of bringing families and individuals together and in helping me promote educational awareness about Microtia and Atresia and hearing loss. Thank you for also allowing me to remain unbiased with each one of your products and for embracing my global support group for this very same reason. A very special thank you to Brandy Harvey, Bobbi Scheinin, Wendy Fuller, Kerri Lewandowski, and Joanne Kernie of Cochlear Americas… thank you for listening to a parent’s story and hearing our struggles to help our children. Thank you also for helping me promote awareness through options for hearing loss and for also helping Ear Community bring together Microtia and Atresia families everywhere. Together, all of you have helped bring my vision of helping the community, both locally and globally. – Thank you for your support!
Thank you to Dennis Howe of Howe Creative who donated his time to create our website’s beautiful and fun artwork. You have always been amazing and fun to work with on projects Dennis. Once again, you have helped bring my vision to life. Thank you to Rob Siefken of Exited Eye web design for helping bring our support group website to life where now even more families can access it across the world. You have shared so many wonderful ideas and thoughts with me for our website helping bring it to life. Thank you both for your technical skills and for wanting to help so many individuals across the world who have little ears and crooked smiles have a place to come to. – Thank you!
Thank you to all of the medical professionals and office staff who have embraced our support group and the Ear Community organization. Without your help, our community, support groups, and Ear Community organization would not be the wonderful network it is today. You chose to believe in me and trust in me. You have provided me with invaluable information including sharing your personal believes and what you have learned along the paths of your surgical careers. You have helped me understand the facts and details about surgical techniques and prosthetic options. You have taught me about all of the options that are offered for individuals born with Microtia and Atresia. Thank you for helping me find an opportunity to promote educational awareness on Microtia and Atresia and for supporting a parent advocate and her goals to help others within the community and throughout the world – Thank you!
Thank you to the helpful resources that have reached out to both me and my Ally. Thank you to Imagine, the Early Intervention program that helps Ally. Thank you to CHIP and CoHear in Colorado and for helping me learn basic sign language to help Ally communicate better. Thank you to the Hands & Voices Organization for offering a community for the deaf and hard of hearing, for the training and education you offer, and for inviting me to be on your board of directors. Thank you to Steve and Teresa Kazemir for creating the Yahoo groups community for Microtia and Atresia families. Your support group was the first one I found. Thank you to Patrick Carpenter, Angela Sabal, Mark De Klerk, Hana Thalova, and Simone Cheadle also for creating wonderful Microtia and Atresia and BAHA groups too that help members each and every day. It is a mission that we are all on together and it is helping so many individuals and their families learn and realize they are not alone.
Most importantly, thank you to all of the wonderful parents, children, adults, sisters, brothers, grand parents, relatives, friends, surgeons, pediatricians, ENTs, audiologists, audiology students, anaplasthologists, nurses, teachers, therapists, family councilors, and organizations that embrace and make up our support group. Thank you to all of the wonderful medical professionals who have wanted to be a part of our support group. Our community would not be the amazing support group it is today without any of you being a part of it. Thank you for listening and for helping us learn some additional helpful advice and suggestions. Most of all, thank you to all of our members who have Microtia and Atresia, Hemifacial Microsomia, Treacher Collins, and Goldenhar Syndrome. You are the reason why I created our support group. We all have each other now. Thank you for participating in our group, benefiting from our group, and for being a part of our community. I love you all – Thank you!