2015 Picnics and Events

2015 Ear Community Microtia and Atresia Summer Family Picnics

Ear Community hosts picnics every year around the world helping bring Microtia and Atresia families together.  This year’s picnics will take place in Australia, Denmark, Pennsylvania (USA), Colorado (USA), Washington (USA), and South Africa.  It is very exciting for many families! Everyone enjoys attending our picnics and our Ear Community picnics always offer such a wonderful opportunity for Microtia and Atresia families to come together, share experiences with each other, and maybe even make a new friend.  Medical professionals such as world renown Microtia and Atresia repair surgeons, anaplastologists, ENTs, audiologists, and therapists along with the world’s leading hearing device companies all come together to mingle with us at our picnics, helping educate us on all of our options including hearing loss.

We look forward to seeing you at our Ear Community picnics this year!

Melissa Tumblin,
Founder and Executive Director of Ear Community
Founder of the Microtia and Atresia Support Group on Facebook

2015 Ear Community Picnics

EHDI Meeting
Early Hearing Detection and Intervention
March 8th thru 10th, 2015 in Louisville, Kentucky

The Ear Community Organization is very excited to attend the EHDI (Early Hearing Detection and Intervention) Meeting that will take place this March 8th thru the 10th in Louisville, Kentucky! This will be Ear Community’s very first conference/meeting where attending as an exhibitor! Parents and medical professionals will be in attendance hoping to learn more about hearing loss and all options. We’ll be representing Microtia and Atresia and all options!

Please stop by and visit us at booth #41. We look forward to seeing you at EHDI this year!
– Melissa Tumblin
Founder and Executive Director of Ear Community

Australia Ear Community Picnic
Melbourne, Australia
Date:  Saturday March 14th, 2015
Time:  11AM to 3PM
RSVP to Lisa and Melissa at:  AustralianEarCommunityPicnic@hotmail.com

Denmark Ear Community Picnic
Hellerup, Denmark

Date:  Sunday, May 31st, 2015
Time:  11AM to 3PM
RSVP to Melissa at:  DenmarkEarCommunityPicnic@gmail.com
*  This picnic will be in collaboration with Decibel.  Decibel is the national organization for children and young people with hearing loss. The association counts both parents, relatives, professional, private and business members.  Decibel consists of a board that is responsible for the overall management of the association and a secretariat in charge of the daily performance.

Decibel er landsforeningen for børn og unge med høretab. Foreningen tæller både forældre, pårørende, professionelle, private- og erhvervsstøttemedlemmer.  Decibel består af en bestyrelse, der står for den overordnede ledelse af foreningen og et sekretariat, der står for den daglige udførelse.

Pittsburgh Ear Community Picnic
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Date:  Saturday June 13th, 2015
Time:  11AM to 3PM
RSVP to Kim and Melissa at:  PittsburghEarCommunityPicnic@gmail.com

EAA Conference
Educational Audiology Association

St. Petersburg, Florida
Vinoy Renaissance Hotel
Date:  June 24th – June 26th
Booth #:  TBD
Ear Community is proud to be an exhibitor at the up coming EAA Conference this June!  Ear Community will help promote awareness about Microtia and Atresia and present ALL options in our booth at this year’s conference.  The Educational Audiology Association is an international organization of audiologists and related professionals who deliver a full spectrum of hearing services to all children, particularly those in educational settings.  The mission of the Educational Audiology Association is to act as the primary resource and as an active advocate for its members through its publications and products, continuing educational activities, networking opportunities and other professional endeavors.

Colorado Ear Community Picnic
Broomfield, Colorado 

Date:  Saturday, July 25th, 2015
Time:  11AM to 3PM
RSVP to Melissa and Audra at:  ColoradoMicrotia@hotmail.com

Seattle Ear Community Picnic
Seattle, Washington
Date:  Saturday, August 8th, 2015
Time:  10AM to 2PM
RSVP to Jodi, Jamie, and Melissa at:  SeattleEarCommunityPicnic@gmail.com

South Africa Ear Community Picnic
Johannesburg, South Africa 

Date:  Sunday, October 11th, 2015
Time:  11AM to 3PM
RSVP to Mark, Aneesa, and Melissa at:  SouthAfricaEarCommunityPicnic@gmail.com

Oticon Medical logo

Oticon Medical logo

Online webinar, course #26259
Parents’ Perspective:  The Decision Making Process for Bone Anchored Hearing Systems for Children.
Date:   Tuesday, October 13, 2015
Time:  12 noon EDT

This is an online accredited course offered through AudiologyOnline and sponsored by Oticon Medical.  Click here to go to this course.  This course offers CEU credit for Audiologists and hearing aid dispensers.  You must complete a test following this course in order to receive credit.  *  This course is FREE to the public and to any families/individuals considering making the decision to aid oneself with a BAHS/bone conduction hearing device.  You must register for this course through AudiologyOnline in order to take this course and to participate in Q&A.  Thank you to Oticon Medical for sponsoring this webinar and thank you to AudiologyOnline for helping make this course possible.
CEUs/Hours Offered: ACAud/1.0; ASHA/0.1 Intermediate, Professional; BAA/1.0; CAA/1.0; IHS/1.0; Kansas DHE, LTS-S0035/1.0; NZAS/1.0; SAC/1.0
Under Review: AAA/0.1 Intermediate

AudiologyOnline logo

AudiologyOnline logo

Melissa Tumblin and Ann Pipes are both mothers to children who use bone anchored hearing systems. Melissa’s daughter Alyssa (Ally) wears the Oticon Medical Ponto Plus on a softband. Ann’s son, Winslow, made his own decision to have surgery to wear his bilateral Ponto Pluses on abutments as implants. Join Melissa and Ann as they talk about how they’ve approached the decision making process around bone anchored hearing systems for their children.  There will also be information provided about the Oticon Medical Ponto Plus BAHS including FM/Wireless possibilities with today’s technology.

Wells Fargo logo

Wells Fargo logo

Wells Fargo Nonprofit Volunteer Expo
Fox Hill Country Club
1400 East Highway

Longmont, Colorado 80504
Date:   Thursday, October 22nd, 2015
Time:  4:30pm to 7:30pm


Melbourne, Australia Ear Community Picnic
March 14, 2015

On Saturday, March 14th, 2015, Ear Community hosted its very first Ear Community Microtia and Atresia Family Picnic in Australia!  It was a beautiful day in Melbourne and we had about 85 people join us for our amazing picnic day.  Families mingled learning about hearing devices and just meeting one another, sharing their experiences, watching the kids play together.  The kids enjoyed getting their faces painted and having temporary tattoos put on them.  They enjoyed bouncing around in a fun dragon jumpy castle.  Even BAT MAN was at our picnic 🙂  Everyone enjoyed a delicious lunch too!  Our picnic hosts were Lisa and her son, Ayden.  I have known Lisa since 2010 as she was one of the first parents who was there for me, helping answer my questions when my daughter, Ally, was born.  Ayden’s picture was one of the first photos on our Ear Community website in our album of ears (Ayden has a beautiful “big boy” Medpor ear now).

Lisa and her family did an AMAZING job planning everything for our picnic!  Lisa had a special cake made (donated by Jenny and Michael Plarre of the Ferguson Plaree Bakehouse) with our Ear Community logo on it and a darling banner with Ear Community Picnic on it and all of the kids painted their hands and left their cute little hand prints behind on the banner.  Lisa had name tags made.  Lisa wore my original “Microtia and Atresia Support Group” hat at the picnic along with a shirt she also had made with our Ear Community logo on it, showing her support for our organization at our picnic.  Lisa’s daughter, Alannah, helped stuff our give-a-way short string back packs for everyone to have at our picnic with magazines, lollies, stickers, football club donated things and the kids loved them!

Our amazing picnic would not have been possible with out the support from our sponsors, Cochlear Americas (thank you Adam!), Oticon Medical (thank you Tracey!), and Stryker CMF.  Thank you so very much for your support so the Ear Community Organization could bring these families together!  There was a lot of help offered that helped our picnic day go off without a hitch.  Thank you to Lisa’s mom who donated some ginger foods such as crackers, chips, and lollies.  Lisa’s entire family helped set up everything….thank you Joe, Frances, Daphne, Dean, and Christopher.  Lisa’s cousin, Jamie, entertained the kids as BAT MAN making balloons and entertaining the kids.  Thank you to Adrian for donating the school property so we could have our special day at a nice location.  Thank you to Philipas Bakery (Simonetta) for donating bread.  Thank you to Kelly, Lisa’s sister-in-law for donating her time to work the tattoo stand.  Thank you to Ayden’s teachers for coming to our picnic (Amy, James, Lorna, Stephanie & Tiana).  Thank you to Lisa’s kid’s sport/PE teacher , Daniel, and his wife, Alicia, for  donating  sporting accessories from their business for everyone to play sports games with the kids.  Thank you to Lisa’s friends Stephanie & Gavin for helping out on the day of our picnic too!  Thank you to Lambros Tseagas for volunteering his time as our picnic photographer so we could have our memories from our day, forever.

My biggest thank you goes to Lisa and Ayden and their family for being a part of our picnic, helping Lisa and Ayden plan for our picnic, and making sure that it was a perfect day for so many and would be so memorable!  At the end of our picnic, Lisa made a beautiful thank you speech along side with Simone Cheadle, a well known Microtia and Atresia advocate in Australia, who is a friend of mine…explaining what Ear Community does as an organization that helps the Microtia and Atresia community around the world. This picnic was perfect for our special day.  Tears of joy from many and many who truly enjoyed a day spent together with so many others in the same situation.

Thank you so much for hosting our picnic Lisa and Ayden and Family!  I could not have done this without your help and you were the perfect friends and family to make it possible!  x

Here are some memories from our special day!

Thank you so much!

Melissa Tumblin
Ear Community Founder

Hellerup, Denmark Ear Community Picnic
May 31, 2015

On Sunday, May 31st, 2015, our very first Ear Community Microtia and Atresia family picnic took place in Hellerup, Denmark.  We had about 70 people attend who were given the opportunity to come together and share their experiences in the same situation and meet other families with loved ones who were born with Microtia and Atresia and who have hearing loss.  This was an amazing turn out as it is expensive to travel in Denmark and for the families who did make our picnic, this was a great opportunity for them to learn more about their options and be a part of a wonderful memory with these families.  Even though it was a bit rainy, the day was great and everyone had a fun time.  We had a wonderful face painter and balloon art maker for the children including a super fun jumpy house.  Families enjoyed a delicious lunch where sandwiches and fruits and vegetables were provided along with tea and cake.  Each family received an educational flyer about “all” options that are currently available for Microtia and Atresia, including hearing loss options.  Families also received some FREE give-a-ways including Ear Community Microtia and Atresia awareness wrist bands and short string back packs with Ear Community’s sponsor logos on them.

A very special thank you to Decibel for not only providing our picnic’s beautiful location in the Decibel facility’s garden area, but for also collaborating with Ear Community helping make our special day possible.  Thank you to Decibel’s Chairman, Mr. Yaacov Kigiel-Slor for being at our picnic and speaking with families about how Decibel can help them network and help their families learn more about hearing loss and the options that can help them hear better.  A special thank you to Tanja Pihl Sandager and Tina Grondahl for helping coordinate and organize everything for our picnic!  Thank you to our amazing sponsors, Oticon Medical, for helping educate families about the Oticon Medical Ponto Plus and Power Plus bone anchored hearing system and more about hearing loss and how the streaming device can help stream music, talking on the phone, and being able to connect to the world easier! A very special thank you to the Oticon Medical graphic design department, including Louise Ernst Stryger in the Marketing department) for creating a banner to represent Ear Community and Microtia/Atresia kids!  The banner was absolutely amazing and showed such love for children born with Microtia and Atresia.  Thank you for doing this for Ear Community!  Thank you to Danaflex (the Denmark distributor for Cochlear products) for helping educate families about the Cochlear Baha 4 BP110 Power processors and the new Baha 5, including all of the iPhone and iPad applications and accessories that are available for the Baha 5 processor.  Thank you to Stryker CMF for also helping sponsor our picnic for Medpor ear implants for Microtia outer ear reconstruction.

Thank you to everyone who was involved in helping make this picnic possible for these families and thank you to the families who were able to make our picnic as we organized this day just for you and your families to come together and know that you are not alone.

Here are some fun memories from our special day in Denmark:

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Ear Community Picnic
June 13th, 2015

On a beautiful Saturday afternoon on June 13th, 2015 in North Strabane Municipal Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Ear Community hosted its very first Microtia and Atresia picnic for families. We had families join us from surrounding states such as Texas, Colorado, Utah, Virginia, Ohio, Georgia, New York, and Massachusetts to name a few. After rain in the morning, our picnic day turned out to be an amazingly beautiful day. The sun came out and we had a nice breeze. Kids were hula hooping and enjoying making friends all day with one another. We had a little over 100 people attend our special day in Pittsburgh! Our picnic hosts for our Pittsburgh picnic were the Cook family (Kim, Joe, Morgan, Madison, and Hunter) from Pittsburgh whom I will introduce to you later in our story. There were two special moments that took place at our Pittsburgh picnic which were: when our picnic host’s daughter, Morgan decided to wear her hair up in pony tails for one of the very first times showing off her adorable little ear…knowing that she was not alone with her little ear at our picnic, feeling confident for one of the first times ever about her ear. My other favorite moment was when I was told by one of the parents that when the kids had to go home, many of the kids were saying, “oh wait, I have to go say goodbye to my friends first!” It is nice to know that the kids who attended our picnic not only enjoyed our fun day, but they also made lots of other friends with little ears. 🙂 Ear Community’s Pittsburgh picnic also made the local KDKA Pittsburgh news!

Families who attended our picnics learned about all of their options for Microtia and Atreisa including being given the opportunity to try on the latest in bone conduction hearing devices thanks to our amazing sponsors Cochlear Americas and Oticon Medical! Thank you to the Cochlear Americas team for helping these families learn more about hearing loss and how the Baha 4 and new Baha 5 can help them hear better! Thank you for also bringing Vibe the Baha Cochlear moose too!  Thank you to Dr. Carolina Abdala and Christina Parlacoski of Otion Medical for helping families learn about the Ponto Plus system w/streamer.  Thank you to Christina Parlacoski of Oticon Medical for also donating two Macy the Monkeys to the lucky children who won them in our raffle!  Thank you to our amazing sponsor Stryker CMF too for helping make our special day possible and for helping educate families about Medpor for reconstructed ear surgery.

Thank you to Erin Wozniak, Founder of Weesie Pals, for donating one of her adorable hand made Weesie Pals! Morgan Cook was on cloud nine when she heard her name called for the Wessie Pal. Thank you Erin! Love the Wessie Pals and thank you for bringing one to our Ear Community picnic to donate. Thank you to Eat-N-Park for donating over 200 giant “smiley” sugar cookies to make our special day even sweeter, www.smileycookie.com! Thank you to Crystal Springs Water for donating 40 cases of bottled water for our picnic so no one would go thirsty, www.crystal-springs.com. Thank you to the Cook family (our picnic host family) who paid for and provided Rita’s frozen ice for our picnic for everyone to enjoy, www.ritasice.com. Thank you to Tracy (Kim Cook’s friend) for helping us out at the picnic and for helping us obtain our park permit while waiting in a very long line with Kim, early in the morning during the freezing cold month of January in order to get us the park we wanted. Thank you! Thank you to Gabrielle (family friend to Kim Cook) for helping us out our picnic as well and making sure everyone had plenty of Rita’s frozen ice. Thank you also to Jim and Marilyn Reed (Kim Cook’s parents) for their help at our picnic and for picking up our lunch and bringing to us at our picnic for everyone to enjoy a delicious lunch. Thank you to Judith at All About You Balloons for helping put smiles on the kids faces with your balloon art! A special thank you to Courtney Czarniak for painting beautiful faces on the kids at our picnic and for donating her time and her staff’s time as royal princesses who attended our picnic to play with the kids. Thank you Courtney at www.PittsburghPrincess.com! Thank you to Dr. Noel Jabbour of Pittsburgh Children’s Hospital for attending our event and mingling with our families to help them learn more about Microtia and Atresia surgery. Thank you to Dr. Arturo Bonilla for joining us all the way from Texas, Dr. Grant Fairbanks from Utah, and Dr. Mark Jones from Georgia, coming all the way to Pittsburgh to our picnic to help families learn more about rib graft ear reconstructive surgery. Thanks so much for your support!

And, my very very special thanks goes to Kim Cook (my friend) and her wonderful family for hosting our picnic and for making sure our amazing day went off without a hitch with all of the fun and food and love that was needed to make our picnic happen! Kim is an amazing mother and woman and I am proud to call her my friend. Kim and her family have been traveling to Ear Community picnics for the past two years! They first attended our Ohio Ear Community picnic where I had the pleasure of meeting them for the first time and little Morgan who has RMA just like my daughter, Ally. Then, to my surprise, they were at our Maryland Ear Community picnic wearing their family “Microtia Kids Rock” T-shirts from one of our Ear Community fund raisers! At the Marilyand picnic is when Kim and her family asked me if they could host a picnic in Pittsburgh and I couldn’t have been more accepting! Kim’s daughter, Morgan, (including Morgan’s sister Madison, and brother, Hunter) have been waiting for our special day for an entire year…looking forward to hosting one big party for Microtia and Atresia kids! The Cook family even made their own family t-shirts that said “Team Morgan!” And so began our planning for our special day in Pittsburgh for 2015. Thank you Kim and Joe Cook for not only inviting me to stay with you at your beautiful home during our picnic, but for being so awesome and exposing me to some of the Pittsburgh staples of the town! Madison, Morgan, and Hunter are such beautiful kids and so well behaved as well! I enjoyed staying with all of you and I am so happy that Morgan likes her Microtia teddy bear and the picture of Ally. 😉 I truly enjoyed my time with your family Kim and I enjoyed meeting your mom and dad (Marilyn and Jim Reed). Thank you for all that you have done for me and for being so supportive to our Ear Community Organization! Love you guys and I can’t wait to see you again soon! Thanks again for all of your hard work coordinating our special day, especially….the food. 😉 Love ya lots! – Melissa (and family) x

Here are some fun memories from our special day in Pittsburgh, PA on June 13, 2015!
– Melissa Tumblin, Founder of Ear Community

Broomfield, Colorado 5th Annual Ear Community Picnic
July 25th, 2015

It was a beautiful day on Saturday when our 5th Annual Colorado Ear Community Microtia and Atresia Picnic took place in Broomfield, CO.  Many families commented on how beautiful the view was of the Boulder Flatirons and foothills on the drive to our beautiful park location in Broomfield.  We had about 150 people join us for an amazing day.  We had families join us from Colorado Springs and the Denver area, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Washington D.C., Texas, New Jersey, Utah, Wyoming, and Virginia!  The kids hula hooped, played catch with Nerf footballs, and enjoyed getting their faces painted and sported some amazing balloon art!  Magic Rob put on a great magic show for the kids and the kids got to pet the magic bunny too!   Magic Rob has been our magician for the past few years and he also has hearing loss…so, he is the perfect magician for us!  Chick-fil-A provided a delicious lunch once again for all of us to enjoy (thank you Briana and Dean of the Broomfield Chick-fil-A store).  The Chick-fil-A cow also joined us and handed out mini moos to each child.  We also had Vibe, the Cochlear moose join us too and the kids had a wonderful time hanging out with both of them!

We had some special moments take place at our picnic in Colorado this year.  Earlier in March of this year, I had attended the EHDI meeting that took place in Kentucky where I met Shelby Bean.  Shelby was born with BMA and wears the Baha.  Shelby told me he had never met anyone before who has Microtia/Atresia.  Shelby and his entire family attended our Colorado picnic to be surrounded by other families in the same situation.  Shelby lives in Washington D.C.  We also had Nakia Wilkerson and her grandparents from Nebraska join us at our picnic.  Nakia’s parents were not able to attend our picnic, but they made sure Nakia would still attend so she could get to experience our picnic and meet others with Microtia and Atresia and so she came with her grand parents.  Nakia is a young teen with RMA.  My daughter, Ally, loved meeting her and seeing how a young pretty girl who is older than her still has her little Microtia ear and she is confident and proud of her ear.

We have some special thank yous to mention!  A very special thank you to Cochlear Americas and Oticon Medical for being our amazing sponsors and for helping make our picnic day possible!  Thank you also for helping educate families on how they can help their loved ones with hearing loss through the use of a Baha and BAHS.  Families were given the opportunity to try on the new Cochlear Baha 5 (thank you Todd Hallberg!) and the new Oticon Medical Ponto Plus w/streamer (thank you Dr. Nancy Plant (and hubby John), Dr. Laura Phelps, and Alan Raffauf (VP of Oticon Medical USA) for being with us at our picnic.  Thank you Oticon Medical for raffling off three of your amazing Massie the bear stuffed animals who wear the Ponto!  Our winners of Massie bears were Roxanna Cordova, Aaron Simko, and Julia Patnaik!  We also had Shana Martinez of Oticon Pediatrics join us and help educate families on the Amigo FM system).  A special thank you to Stryker CMF for helping educate families about Medpor (used in the Medpor surgical technique for ear reconstruction)….(thank you to Beth Sizemore, Tim Anderson, and Brad Ader all of Stryker for being with us).  Thank you to Dr. Arturo Bonilla and Dr. Grant Fairbanks (and wife Amy) for joining us at our picnic to help educate families about the rib graft surgical technique.  Thank you to Dr. Andrew Winkler for helping educate families on BAHA implant surgery and also on Vistafix for prosthetic ear options.  Thank you to Barb and Chelsea Lillo for helping educate families about the prosthetic ear option!

Thank you to the sweet little girl and her family who also collected a bag full of single earrings for Ally!  How thoughtful!  The little girl collected these earrings from all over and thought she would share them with Ally since they both have one ear.  So sweet!!!

Thank you also to Erin Wozniak, Founder of Weezie Pals, who donated one adorable Weesie Pal that got to go home with a lucky little girl named Lucy Rudder!  Thank you to Kevin Goldstein of Far End Gear for donating 155 single ear buds for families to have.  Thank you to Jeremy Martin at Eldorado Springs for donating (8) five gallon bottles of natural Colorado spring water with hand pumps for all of us to enjoy at our picnic and so no one would go thirsty!    Thank you to Janice at the Costco in Thornton, CO for donating one gift card that we used toward the purchase of juice boxes for the kids at our picnic.  Thank you also to Eleshea Martin of Baha Head Bands for joining us at our picnic and donating some hats for BAHAs and soft band head bands!

A very special thank you to our picnic hosts for our 5th Annual Colorado Ear Community picnic.  In addition to the Tumblin family hosting (Founders of Ear Community), the Costillo family helped us host for the second year in a row!  Thank you to Audra, Iliana, Lorenzo, and Lorenzo Jr. (and grandparents) for helping us once again host an amazing picnic here in Colorado.  Thank you for all of your help in helping set up and tear down for our picnic.  Audra and Lorenzo’s daughter, Iliana (born with BMA and now has two Medpor ears) along with Melissa and Brent Tumblin’s daughter, Hailey (Ally’s big sister) both made an adorable message at our picnic when they both thanked everyone for attending and also said “we love little ears!”  The kids love seeing each other each summer and at school!  The Costillo family is very special to the Tumblin family as I met Audra at Ally’s elementary school three years ago where I met Audra’s daughter, Iliana.  Ever since I met little Iliana….I knew my daughter, Ally, would be just fine.  It means so much for these families to come together and meet where they can share experiences and make a friend who is in the same situation.  Community support for Microtia and Atresia families and that is just what Ear Community offers to these families.

Here are some special memories from our special day!

Seattle, Washington Ear Community Picnic
August, 8th, 2015

On Saturday, August 8th, 2015, Ear Community hosted its first Microtia and Atresia family picnic in beautiful Seattle, Washington. Our picnic hosts were Jodi Sternoff (and family) and Jamie Burrells (and family). Jamie and Jodi and their families helped make everything happen by picking up our food and drinks and reserving our park location and booking our entertainment. Jamie’s son was able to share his experience about having a Medpor reconstructed ear and Jodi’s daughter enjoyed playing with the other kids and just exploring as she is still very youn. We had about 165 people join us on our special day. We had families attend from Canada, Oregon, Utah, Arizona, California, Texas, Idaho, and Colorado. The kids had a wonderful time getting their faces painted and receiving some fun balloon art! We also had a magician who entertained the kids and made them laugh. Families were able to mingle each other and share their experiences and let the kids play with each other.

Families who attended our picnic were able to learn about all of their options for Microtia and Atresia. Everyone who attended was given the opportunity to try on bone anchored hearing devices from Cochlear Americas and Oticon Medical. Stryker CMF was on site helping educate about Medpor. We also had a couple of anaplastologists on site helping educate about prosthetic ears (Sharon Haggerty and Paul Tanner). Dr. Arturo Bonilla of Texas, Dr. Kathleen Sie of Children’s Hospital Seattle, Dr. Grant Fairbanks of Utah, and Dr. Russell Griffiths of Idaho all helped educate about ear reconstructive surgery using the Rib Graft technique (and Medpor w/Dr. Sie).

I would like to thank Cochlear Americas, Oticon Medical, and Stryker CMF for being our amazing sponsors and for helping make our Ear Community picnic possible! I would also like to thank the two young girls who donated their time to be our face painters. Thank you! Thank you to Far End Gear for donating the one good ear buds that were donated to Ear Community and given away to families at our picnic. Thank you to the medical professionals who were able to be with us on our special day and help everyone learn about the facts.  We also had some teachers of the deaf with us at our picnic.  Thank you to Oticon Medical for raffling off three Massie stuffed teddy bears with Ponto hearing devices on them to three lucky kiddos at our picnic!  Ear Community donated one adorable Weesie Pal to one lucky kiddo that was donated by Erin Wozniak of Weesie Pals.  Thank you Erin!

A very special thank you to our picnic hosts Jodie Sternoff and Jamie Burrells and their families for hosting our Ear Community picnic. Jamie and her son, Own, were happy to share their experience with Medpor and canalplasty with other families. Thank you for doing this. It was great catching up with Jodie Sternoff and her husband, Ryan, while visiting Seattle. Jodi managed to help co-host our picnic even though she was very pregnant. Jodi did have her baby, a little girl named Cecelia. Congratulations Jodi and family! I look forward to seeing you again in the near future.  It was also nice to finally meet some of the families who have helped fund raise for Ear Community at this picnic!  Two families participated in the Walk4Hearing event through the HLAA where Ear Community is able to receive some of the proceeds.  Thank you and see you guys in California next year!

Here are some fun memories from our Seattle, WA Ear Community picnic:

Johannesburg, South Africa Ear Community Picnic
October, 11th, 2015

After talking with Mark DeKlerk for the past four years about having an Ear Community Microtia and Atresia family picnic….finally on Sunday, October 11th, 2015, nearly 90 people came together at our Ear Community Microtia and Atresia family picnic in Johannesburg, South Africa. Our Ear Community picnic was the first event of its kind to bring families together who have loved ones born with Microtia and Atresia in South Africa. The day was a hot, but beautiful day. Families joined together to share their experiences and trade information while they watched some of the children play soccer. A delicious lunch was served for everyone along with some fun entertainment for the kids and also a magic show put on by Dr. Mol. Thank you Dr. Mol!

Our amazing picnic hosts were Mark DeKlerk and Aneesa Moola. I have known Mark for the past five years now and he and his family are amazing! Mark was one of the very first people I met on the support groups who helped me understand Microtia and Atresia and how my daughter, Ally, would be able to live a normal happy and healthy life. In fact, when I first launched the Ear Community website in October of 2011, Mark’s story was one of the very first “Life Stories” launched on our website and you can read about Mark’s story here.  I have known Aneesa for the past few years and Aneesa is a wonderful young lady who helps advocate for so many. Both Aneesa and Mark are amazing advocates who run their own support groups (Microtia and Atresia Support Group South Africa) and BAHA Support Group (Southern Africa), both on Facebook. Many thanks to Mark DeKlerk for organizing our entire event! Mark found a beautiful place for our event and organized our food and advertising. Mark did an amazing job and I couldn’t have found better hosts to make our special day so perfect!

In addition to the Ear Community Organization being so excited to help bring all of these beautiful families together at our Microtia and Atresia picnic, Ear Community was also able to help one lucky little girl obtain new bone conduction hearing devices with the help of Oticon Medical. The Ear Community Organization was able to help donate (2) brand new Oticon Medical Ponto Plus hearing devices with streamer to little Lebo Pretty Ndalda just in time to hear all of the excitement at our picnic. Lebo’s story can also be found on our Ear Community website here.  It was such a pleasure meeting Lebo and her parents via Skype at the picnic.  Now, many individuals came together to help Lebo obtain her new Oticon Medical hearing devices. Thank you to my friend and Founder of the Give An Ear Foundation, Viola Ntokazi Nwadike, who applied for hearing devices to Ear Community on behalf of Lebo and her family. Viola also helped with transportation that was needed to get little Lebo to her hearing tests and fitting for her new hearing devices and transportation to our Ear Community picnic. Thank you to the SAAA (South African Association for Audiologists) for helping cover Lebo’s hearing tests. Thank you to Nizha Ford and Cathy Flores (Audiologists) for donating their time and services to help fit and program Lebo’s new hearing devices. Thank you to Kaylini Naidoo of Oticon Medical too for helping make sure Lebo’s Oticon Medical Ponto Plus experience was a wonderful one (Kaylini brought a stuffed monkey animal and some fun treats for Lebo so she could have an amazing day obtaining her new hearing devices).

Our Ear Community Microtia and Atresia picnics would not be possible without the help of our amazing sponsors! Ear Community would like to say a very special thank you to Cochlear Americas, Oticon Medical, and Stryker CMF. A special thank you to Momentum Medical for helping contribute toward our picnic expenses and for helping make our special day complete. Thank you also to Tanya Hanekom of the SAAA for helping sponsor our Ear Community banners so our picnic could be professional with official Ear Community representation! A special thanks to Kaylini Naidoo of Oticon Medical for helping educate families about the Ponto BAHS models. A special thank you to Nicolette Van Zyl at Southern ENT for helping educate families about the Cochlear Baha 4 and Baha 5. A special thank you to Dr. Mol for not only helping educate families about Microtia and Atresia, but for also entertaining the kids and families as our picnic magician! I am told you did a wonderful job and kept the crowd laughing as they watched in amazement. Thank you! A very special thank you also to Justin, our photographer! Thank you Justin for donating your time to help all of us remember our special picnic day. Justin is Mark’s cousin! And….a VERY special thank you to Mark DeKlerk, not just for hosting our picnic and not just for wanting to bring South African families together so they know they are not alone, but also for helping contribute to our picnic expenses as well. Mark helped fund a portion of our picnic out of his own picnic and he also absorbed the custom’s taxes on the Ear Community give-a-way items that I had shipped for all of you to have. Thank you to everyone who made our day so memorable and fun. I do hope each and every one of you cherish our day for ever and most of all, I hope you all stay connected because none of us are alone with Microtia and Atresia!

I am so happy that everyone was able to come together and enjoy our Ear Community Microtia and Atresia picnic. Thank you so much for allowing me to Skype with everyone on Sunday at our picnic. It meant so much to me to be able to join you at our picnic in South Africa, even though I could not be with you in person. Thank you to all and let’s all stay in touch!

Here are some fun memories from our Johannesburg picnic in South Africa:

Thank you everyone!
Melissa Tumblin
Founder and Executive Director
Ear Community’s


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