In 2009, a beautiful baby girl was born to Brent and Melissa Tumblin named Alyssa. This beautiful little girl was born missing her right ear (Microtia) and missing her ear canal (Atresia), resulting in hearing loss. Brent and Melissa tried to find answers through many doctors and ENTs and tried to learn why Ally was born with Microtia and Atresia, “it was very difficult finding any kind of answers to our questions” said Melissa. When Ally was about nine months old and after some months of doing their own research to see what they could find, Melissa decided to start a support group on Facebook to help connect families and individuals in the same situation. This support group has been running since May 20th, 2010 and has since then become the world’s largest global support group for families with loved ones born with Microtia and Atresia. The Facebook support group is called “The Microtia and Atresia Support Group.”
Melissa quickly discovered that the majority of families who have a child born with Microtia and Atresia all have the same questions and could not find the answers they were looking for. After considering forming a nonprofit organization for two years, Melissa decided to found the Ear Community Foundation on February 1st, 2012. Ear Community has an amazing website that contains anything and everything that anyone would ever need to know about Microtia and Atresia, including surgical options, hearing devices, helpful accessories, helpful resources for speech services and IEP/504 plans for school, life stories, and a forum for connecting families and individuals in the same situation. Ear Community is a globally recognized nonprofit organization and has been referred to as a portal of information for medical professionals for updating themselves regarding Microtia and Atresia. Melissa has even presented CE/CEU accredited webinars that audiologists, ENTs, and therapists can take for medical credit and learn more about the struggles families often endure, all options, and what information is needed when someone has a child born with Microtia and Atresia. Ear Community also gives back to the community through hearing device donations, college scholarships, and financial assistance for travel costs for surgery planning (when funds are available). In fact, Ear Community donated 31 hearing devices in just 2013 alone to children and adults born with Microtia and Atresia around the world! http://earcommunity.org/events/great-memories/
One of Melissa’s main goals for Ear Community was to create a community for anyone born with Microtia and Atresia, including their families, to go to, a place where they would never feel alone. Since hosting her first Microtia and Atresia summer family picnic in 2011 in Denver, Colorado, Melissa has gone on to hosting 14 more picnics in 2012 and 2013 in Canada, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States bringing together close to 2,500 people. This summer in 2014, Ear Community will be hosting another seven picnics across the United States, expecting another 1,300 to 1,500 people coming together. Ear Community picnics provide a wonderful opportunity for families to come together and share experiences and also learn about all options and get answers to their questions by mingling with world renown plastic surgeons, ENTs, anaplastologists, audiologists, and therapists who attend our events. Hearing device companies and surgical device companies proudly sponsor our events and come together to help the families who attend our picnics get the answers they are looking for. Some of the wonderful sponsors who support Ear Community’s mission are: Cochlear Americas, Ear Gear, Oticon Medical, Phonak, Sophono, and Stryker CMF. We look forward to seeing you at one of our picnics this summer in CA, CO, CT, GA, MD, MI, and TX!
While Ear Community is a highly successful nonprofit organization, we are still very small and have very little funding. When considering donating to a 501c3 nonprofit organization, please consider making a donation to Ear Community. We could use your support to get to the next level and continue helping loved ones with Microtia and Atreisa across the world even more!
Every child is perfect with Microtia and Atresia, but if your child or if you are an adult who has M/A and you would like to know what options are currently available today, you have the right to know what these options are. Especially, if you believe some of these options may make you happier in life. Please know your options so you can be the best advocate for your child or for yourself.
Thank you from the bottom of our hearts!
Melissa Tumblin and Family and Board of Directors
Founder and Executive Director of Ear Community