1st Annual Denver, Colorado Picnic (USA)
JUNE 11, 2011
For three months I planned for our summer picnic. I drove around to at least thirteen grocery stores with Ally (when I found the time to do so) and information on letterhead about our support group asking for donations for our picnic. I was determined to bring Microtia and Atresia families together no matter what…even if we all brought our own food and did a pot luck. To my surprise, many of the grocery stores were all very giving and happy to give a donation to our support group picnic. Walmart, KingSoopers, Costco, and Safeway….thank you all for giving. Because of you…I knew our picnic was well on its way and was going to be a wonderful event!
In May, another wonderful surprise happened…Oticon Medical asked me if they could please sponsor our summer picnic. I couldn’t believe it! I was so happy and was practically crying tears of joy in between my e-mails back and forth to the Vice President of Marketing as he shared his excitement with me in planning for the picnic. Oticon Medical offered to sponsor our group’s deli lunch. Oticon even provided hats (visors) for everyone at the picnic with our support group’s name on them. Then, the day before our picnic, I received a phone call while standing in line at Costco picking up the sheet cakes and bottled water for the picnic. Cochlear was on the phone and said they would be like to be at our picnic and asked if we had any fun entertainment for the kids. Before I knew it, we now had a face painter. Again, I was so happy…our picnic was coming together and was getting better and better!
On June 10, 2011, the night before our picnic, I received a phone call from Dr. Arturo Bonilla, Founder of the Microtia Congenital Ear Deformity Institute in San Antonio, TX (world renown Rib Graft surgeon). Dr. Bonilla called to tell me that he would like to attend our picnic the following morning. I can not tell you how honored I was to know that Dr. Bonilla wanted to take the time to fly out to attend our picnic and that he wanted to be there for our support group’s families. I quickly realized that Dr. Bonilla was doing this to support me too and my efforts toward promoting awareness about Microtia and Atresia. Thank you so much Dr. Bonilla. I will always remember your generosity and thoughtfulness in being there for all of us that Saturday at our 1st Annual picnic. Thank you!
On Saturday, June 11th in Denver, CO, I hosted our support group’s very first annual summer picnic for Microtia and Atresia families. Of course it rained and the park was muddy. The bathrooms were not the best either, but everyone who attended had a wonderful time. The kids enjoyed getting their faces painted. Our lunch was amazing and delicious. There were tons of smiles on everyone’s faces. I was touched to see so many families and individuals attend our picnic. What was even more touching was knowing that many who attended were so happy to finally meet other Microtia and Atresia families just like them! Everyone was there…we had two beautiful little girls who had Treacher Collins at our picnic and a couple of Goldenhar families. We a few adults attend including one adult (Scott) who was one week post op from having Medpor surgery. Scott was so excited to answer questions about his surgery and to be at our picnic with everyone as he had only met a couple of other individuals over his lifetime who had Microtia/Atresia. Everyone enjoyed mingling and getting the chance to talk to everyone and share experiences. We had a literature table that had helpful brochures about BAHAs from Oticon, Cochlear, and Sophono including copies of both of my articles that I had recently published. As Dr. Bonilla spoke with families, representatives from Oticon, Cochlear, and Sophono also mingled helping answer questions about sound processors and hearing loss. We had a perfect mix of individuals of all different ages…some with BAHAs, some who have had surgery and some who like their little ears just the way they are. Our fire truck even showed up for the kids at the very end of our picnic as it began to rain again. All in all, it was a perfect day as far as I am concerned and one that I will never forget. A little over 100 people attended our 1st picnic. Thank you everyone for wanting to meet each other and for wanting to come together and share experiences. Our picnic would not have been so successful with all of you there. I am looking forward to seeing you all and many more of you each summer!
Thank you to Oticon, Cochlear ad Sophono for helping me bring families together. Thank you most of all to the families and individuals who want to come together. None of this would have been possible or have happened without all of you caring and wanting to come together.
Below are some photos from our 1st Annual Summer Picnic for Microtia and Atresia Families in Denver, Colorado (USA) from June 11, 2011.
Toronto, Ontario Picnic (Canada)
MAY 12, 2012
On a beautiful sunny day, about 55 people attended our Toronto summer family picnic. Families enjoyed meeting each other and sharing experiences. The kids played bean bag toss, horse shoe and fishing games together. Dave Gordey from Oticon, with a friend’s grill and his help, grilled and organized a nice bar-b-q lunch for all of the families at our picnic. Emily Tye of the AboutFace Organization attended our summer picnic and brought her dog with her who received tons of love from the kids. Everyone who attended had a wonderful time coming together at our picnic. I would like to thank OTICON MEDICAL for sponsoring our 1st Microtia and Atresia Family Summer Picnic in Toronto through Ear Community and the Microtia and Atresia Support Group. I am honored and thankful for your support and in helping me bring together families with children and adults who have Microtia/Atresia, Hemifacial Microsomia, Goldenhar Syndrome, and Treacher Collins. Thank you for your kindness and compassion in helping bring families together and in helping educate them about hearing loss.
Yonkers, New York Picnic (USA)
YONKERS, NEW YORK
JUNE 16, 2012
On a beautiful sunny day at 81 degrees we had our 1st Annual NY Microtia/Atresia Summer Family Picnic through Ear Community. With great pleasure I would like to thank Cochlear Americas, Oticon Medical and Sophono for sponsoring our summer picnic that was just held in Yonkers, New York for Microtia and Atresia families (including Hemifacial Microsomia, Treacher Collins and Goldenhar Syndrome families). Our event would not have been possible if it were not for our sponsors. Thanks to you for sponsoring our picnic, our kids had a wonderful time playing with each other, were able to enjoy some fun entertainment and activities and enjoy a delicious catered lunch. Thank you also for helping educate our families more about hearing loss and the technology available that can help make hearing loss manageable. I would also like to thank Oticon Medical for making it possible for me to be at the NY picnic so that I could meet so many of the families whom I have been speaking with since founding our support group. Thank you! A little over 100 people attended our picnic this Saturday! We had families travel from Ohio, New Jersey and from all over the state of New York including a family from Columbia. In addition to our families and individuals who attended our picnic, Dr. Thomas Romo and Dr. Russell Griffiths were also among our families. Dr. Thomas Romo is one of NYC’s finest plastic surgeons, is the Founder of the Little Baby Face Foundation and the Director of facial and reconstructive plastic surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital and Manhattan Eye, Ear and Throat Hospital. Dr. Russell Griffiths has his private practice in Boise, Idaho and specializes in a variety of facial plastic surgery including ear reconstruction. I would like to thank Daisy Alcivar Garrison for being our NY picnic host and for organizing our event. Daisy would like to carry on the torch and host a picnic in New York for Microtia families every year. Thank you to Pee Wee the clown who was our awesome magician, snow cone maker, DJ, face painter/balloon maker and popcorn maker. Yep, Pee Wee did it all! The kids had a wonderful time listening to him and dancing and playing games. Pee Wee gave us an amazing discount on everything he did for us which is very much appreciated. I would also like to say a very special thank you to Marcos of Valentina’s Pizzaria who catered our delicious Italian lunch (rigatoni, chicken parm, garlic balls, salad, french fries, and drinks). Marcos not only catered our event at his cost (helping give Oticon Medical a 50% discount for covering the food), but Marcos snuk in some very delicious cannolis as a special treat for all of the parents to eat and asked a friend to cater some delicious cupcakes for the kids. Marcos applauds what we are doing for the Microtia/Atresia community and he has offered to cater next year’s NY picnic for FREE and he also would like to do this for many years to come to support Ear Community and the Yonkers, NY community. Marcos and PeeWee, thank you for helping make our Microtia/Atresia picnic in New York so special for these families and especially for our kids. Thank you for giving back to the community! I would also like to thank Build-A-Bear for donating a fully stuffed and dressed bear that one lucky little girl won during our raffle. I have a feeling this little girl just got a new best friend! I would also like to thank the Ear to Ear Foundation for asking the Oriental Trading Company for some fun goodies for the kids. Thank you to the Oriental Trading Company for those goodies provided and the kids loved them. Thank you! I will always remember the experiences these picnics provide. I can’t tell you all how very nice it was to finally meet everyone, watch the kids play together and have fun, see families mingling with medical professionals in a relaxed setting and learning about hearing technology in an unbiased manner. Thank you to everyone involved for helping me find a way to bring Microtia/Atresia families together.
Founder of Ear Community and the Microtia and Atresia Support Group on Facebook
Webster, Texas (USA)
JUNE 30, 2012
Our Texas Microtia and Atresia Summer Family Picnic was a huge success. Even though it poured rain with thunder and lightening the entire time, close to 90 people had a wonderful time and still found a way to have fun and share experiences with one another. There were little girls hula hooping in the rain and kiddos playing with each other having a blast. Parents had the opportunity to speak with one another and to see their kids play with other kids who have little ears too! Some kids and adults had surgery and some have not or have chosen not to and everyone was still able to share experiences. This was the first time for some families in meeting other families in the same situation. I would like to say a BIG thank you to Cochlear Americas, Oticon Medical, and Sophono for proudly sponsoring our Texas picnic! Our picnics would not be the picnics I envisioned them to be without your help and thank you for wanting to be a part of the Microtia/Atresia community! You have helped make our picnics fun for everyone with the activities provided and for our food and for our park location. Thank you also for bringing demo sound processors for everyone to try on. At least two people were able to hear through a sound processor for the very first time at our Webster picnic. Thank you to Alex Goncarovs (West Coast Regional Sales Manager of Sophono), Kimberlee Griffey (Territory Sales Rep for Oticon), and Kirk (Territory Sales Rep for Cochlear) for being at our Texas picnic helping educate everyone about sound processors and on hearing loss! I would also like to thank Oticon Medical for bringing a $10 iTunes card and an In-The-Ear Hearing Aid Dehumidifier that was raffled off to one lucky little girl. I would like to thank Dr. Arturo Bonilla and Dr. Russell Griffiths for attending our picnic as well and for speaking and mingling with families and individuals about Microtia and Atresia. I would like to thank Allison Vest and Colette Shrader (both anaplastologists) who not only helped educate families about prosthetic ears and brought lots of ear samples for everyone to see, but they also brought some help (Hannah and Sky) who face painted the kids and made balloon animals and the kids just loved that! Allison and Colette also had drawn diagrams on the cement explaining how a prosthetic ears fit and provided some side walk chalk for the kids. I would like to thank Build-A-Bear who donated a fully dressed/stuffed bear that was raffled off to one very lucky little boy. Thank you to Home Depot for donating 2 cases of bottled water and thank you to Sams for donating cupcakes for the kids and a cookie tray. Thank you to the SnoBall Hut for providing snowballs for the kids and to Texas Lite and Pyro who donated the bubble machine for the kids to have fun in. Thank you to Kelly Cardenas for taking pictures of our picnic so we could have the memories of this picnic forever.
I would also like to say a very special thank you to Melanie, Daniel and Nathaniel Mendoza and family and Laura, Jack and John Barzizza for hosting our First Microtia and Atresia picnic in Texas through Ear Community. This was a chance for Melanie and Laura and their families to be able to give back to the Webster/Houston community and to be able to reach out and bring Microtia/Atresia families together. I am thankful for their help and for their friendships. I was told that Daniel (Melanie’s son) was so excited to show off his newly reconstructed ear (by Dr. Bonilla) to everyone and to help answer questions. He also enjoyed trying on the Cochlear processors in all of the different colors that are offered. Daniel also enjoyed handing out pop corn to all of the kids and adults too! Thank you to Nathaniel for running around to Sams and Home Depot and more asking for donations for our picnic. Again, I am so happy to know that more Microtia and Atresia families and individuals were able to come together at one of our picnics and learn about their options from the medical professionals who attended in a relaxed and stress free environment. Thank you for everyone for recognizing Ear Community as a helpful resource and as a place that brings families together to learn about all of their options regarding Microtia and Atresia.
Thank you so much!
Founder of Ear Community and the Microtia and Atresia Support Group on Facebook
2nd Annual Broomfield, Colorado Picnic (USA)
JULY 21, 2012
On Saturday, July 21, 2012, I hosted our 2nd Annual Summer Picnic for Microtia and Atresia families (including Goldenhar Syndrome, Treacher Collins, and Hemifacial Microsomia families). Our Colorado Picnic was a huge success! Even though it was 100 degrees, we had close to 200 people attend (almost double the amount of people from last year’s picnic). It was a wonderful day! We had many families travel from surrounding states to be at our picnic including one family from New Zealand! Thank you so much to Cochlear, Oticon Medical, and Sophono for proudly sponsoring our picnic again this year. Without our sponsors, our picnics would not be the wonderful picnics they have become. I would not be able to put smiles on our little kids faces without your help and by giving back to the Microtia and Atresia community through Ear Community and making it fun for everyone. Cochlear (www.cochlear.com) and the Hands & Voices Organization (www.handsandvoices.org) sponsored our magician for the kids. “Magic Rob” made the kids laugh and did a wonderful job entertaining them. Magic Rob was a perfect fit for our picnic as he also happens to wear a hearing aid. Oticon Medical (www.oticonmedical.com) proudly sponsored our delicious lunch and drinks for all, including sponsoring our beautiful park location in the lovely city of Broomfield, and the super fun jumpy castle for the kids. Everyone enjoyed having a nice lunch while meeting one another and the kids had a blast in the jumpy castle with each other. Sophono (www.sophono.com) proudly sponsored our face painter and balloon maker for the kids in which both lines never ran short with these two fun activities. Families mingled with both Dr. Sheryl Lewin (www.microtiaearsurgery.com) and her family and Dr. Russell Griffiths (www.earreconstructionspecialist.com). Families learned more about hearing loss and about Cochlear, Oticon, and Sophono options for sound processors. In fact, we had one little boy hear through a sound processor for the very first time and my daughter’s speech pathologist happened to be standing by him and she asked him “well, how does it sound?” and he whipped his head around with a big smile and said he liked it. I enjoy hearing that someone at our picnic discovered a new option…this is what education is all about for us and knowing what our options are. We had early intervention therapists on site with us including my daughter, Ally’s, speech therapist, Linda. I was unable to get an anaplastologist (prosthetic expert) at our picnic this time, but next year I’ll hope for one to make it. Police officers Hiatt and Abram spoke to the kids about safety and gave the kids a tour of the police car with badges, stickers, and tattoos. The Build-A-Bear mascot visited us and posed for pictures with the kids. Thank you Build-A-Bear for also donating a teddy bear which was raffled off to a very lucky boy at our picnic. A special thank you to Jordan Fink and Carrie Jones of Jordan Fink Photography (www.jordanfinkphotography.com) for donating their time to be our professional photographers at our picnic so we can always remember our 2nd Annual Colorado Microtia and Atresia Picnic! Over 300 photos were taken of our amazing picnic on Saturday. I could not have managed to take the quality of photos you took and manage the picnic at the same time. I met Jordan and Carrie at a Chamber of Commerce Small Business Event just two weeks before our picnic. They are new in town and were looking to give back to someone in the community and I happened to meet them at this chamber event. I guess you could say that it was meant to be! Thank you to Costco too for donating our two sheet cakes, juice boxes, and bottled water. Thank you to my best friend, John Connor, who donated a case of fruit twists for the kids. We also shared a moment of silence to think about the hundreds of families who have been displaced from their homes because of the fires our state has experienced and especially the families who were involved in the tragic shooting at the theater in Aurora, CO just two days ago. I am continually amazed at the support I have received in making these picnics possible and for all of the families and individuals who support me as well by coming together at our picnics, showing me that we all want to meet one another and share experiences. Even though I feel that I never have enough time to meet each and everyone of you at our picnics or have to cut our conversations short to make sure everything is running smoothly, I always have a wonderful time and I enjoy meeting so many of you. It is so nice to meet everyone from our support group and to meet the families that I have been able to speak with over the phone. I am especially happy to always see both kids and adults with Microtia and Atresia attend our picnic, no matter whether surgery was a decision or the decision was to keep those beautiful little ears. It is about coming together and learning from each other and having some role models for both the kids and the parents. I love you all and look forward to seeing you at all of our picnics every year!
Thank you for making our head quarter picnic the success that it was once again!
Founder of Ear Community and the Microtia and Atresia Support Group on Facebook
Calgary, Alberta Picnic (Canada)
JULY 21, 2012
On Saturday, July 21st in Calgary, Alberta Canada, we had our 1st Microtia and Atresia summer family picnic (including families of Goldenhar Syndrome, Treacher Collins, and Hemifacial Microsomia loved ones). The day was beautiful and so was our park location. Cochlear and Oticon Medical proudly sponsored our picnic along with Handy Latino & Associates Carpet Cleaning, ph: 403 383 6132 and e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Cochlear, www.cochlear.com, was happy to sponsor our food for our picnic and our fun clown who provided amazing face painting for the kids. Oticon Medical, www.oticonmedical.com, proudly sponsored our location for our picnic. Handy Latino & Associates also donated 12 large bags of ice so that every drink at our picnic was cold. Handy Latino & Associates also donated items in the goody bags for all of the children along with stuffed teddy bears for each child. We had so many wonderful people come together and help at our Calgary picnic it was amazing! I would like to thank Xamara and Diego Van Der Pennen Lemus and her family for all of the hard work that was put into this picnic. Xamara also drove around to a number of grocery stores asking for money donations toward food items for this picnic. I would like to thank Georgina Metzler, email@example.com, for donating her time and services as a professional photographer for our picnic and who took wonderful pictures of our amazing day. Thank you to Citlali Loza for donating Avon chapsticks to the kids in the goody bags. Thank you again to Handy Latino & Associates for also covering the cost of the additional chapsticks for Avon. Build-A-Bear in the United States proudly donated one stuffed and dressed teddy bear to this picnic for one lucky kid during the raffle. Safeway grocery store donated $25 toward food items for this picnic and Costco stores donated $70 toward food items for this picnic. Thank you to Alberta Health Services Reconstructive Medicine for donating two movie passes that were raffled off at this picnic. Thank you also to everyone who helped during the picnic such as Dave Gordey of Oticon Medical for not only taking pictures and grilling the hotdogs, but he also helped with set up and clean up after coming straight from the airport. Dave grilled with lots of delicious hot dogs along with Brad Burton. Thank you Brad for bringing your grill! Thank you to Mayte and Brad Burton for helping find the best deals for the food, cooking our food on the day of the picnic and helping with set up and clean up for the picnic. Xamara tells me that the Burtons were absolute life savers. Thank you to Yolani, Jasmin, Daniel, and Sebastian Benavides for helping make the fruit trays, arrange everything, loading up the cars with the food, helping all over during the picnic, making it happen, and for helping with the the raffles, and giving the goodie bags away. Xamara appreciated your help greatly and so do I in helping with this picnic and in helping promote awareness about Microtia and Atresia through a fun picnic for everyone! Karen Cavanah also brought a little gas stove and cooked some hotdogs, made cookies for the picnic, helped set up, take down, among other things. Alicia & Joaquin Benitez, thank you, for making the veggie trays, and cemita bread. Gladys and Makayla Lemus helped clean up the picnic area before and after, along all the above mentioned people. And…Amber from Edmonton reconstruction helped during the raffle, thank you so much! Again, the purpose of these picnics is to come together and have a nice time. Xamara’s picnic showed lots of hospitality from so many who helped come together and make this picnic happen. I hope everyone had an absolute wonderful time in Calgary last Saturday and were able to share their experiences and have a nice picnic at the park, together. Thank you Xamara for being the host for our first Calgary picnic through Ear Community!
Founder of Ear Community and the Microtia and Atresia Support Group on Facebook
Pleasanton, California Picnic (USA)
JULY 28, 2012
On Saturday, July 28, 2012, we hosted our Microtia and Atresia Summer Family Picnic in Pleasanton, California! We had nearly 200 people attend our picnic. A very special Thank You to Amy Gile and her family for hosting our picnic. Thank you Amy for also being my host family and allowing me to stay with you and your family! I enjoyed getting to know you and your family and I think the world of you guys. Our day was a beautiful sunny day at 82 degrees and our park location was beautiful! Our Pleasanton picnic was proudly sponsored by Cochlear, Otion Medical, and Sophono. We all enjoyed a delicious lunch that was provided for everyone and the kids had so much fun with the tattoo artist and balloon maker. In fact, the balloon maker made some incredible balloons that were unlike any other balloons that I and nor anyone else had ever seen. They were incredibly detailed and amazing! We had families travel to our picnic from many parts of California, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Colorado, and many other surrounding states! A very special Thank You to Dr. John Reinisch (the pioneer of the Medpor surgical technique), Dr. Sheryl Lewin (one of the leading Medpor surgeons in the world), and Dr. Russell Griffiths (one of the leading ear reconstructive surgeons in our nation who offers his patients both options for Rib Graft and Medpor and offers them both in one stage surgeries and makes beautiful ears) for joining us at our picnic. It was an honor and pleasure to see you all again! Dr. Reinisch, Dr. Lewin, and Dr. Griffiths each spoke with families and and helped answer questions that they have had for years. Greg Gion, who is one of the nations leading anaplastologists also came to our picnic and helped educate families about prosthetic ear options. Tracy, from Dr. Joseph Roberson’s office, from the California Ear Institute, was at our picnic with a big “Nemo” balloon and lots of goodies for the kids along with being one of our picnic’s sponsors too! We had a few Goldenhar families attend along with some Treacher Collins families and Hemifacial Microsomia families. Some of the kids and adults had surgery and some did not, but this was ideal because everyone had the chance to learn from each other and share experiences. It was amazing to watch everyone learn about hearing loss from the Cochlear, Oticon, and Sophono representatives. What was even more amazing was to watch the reactions on the children’s and adult’s faces when they listened through a Baha/sound processors. One of our picnic goers, Ben, who was 5 days post op from having his first stage of Rib Graft surgery with Dr. Brent, won our stuffed Build-A-Bear teddy bear in our raffle! Ben’s mom, Karla, said he hugged that bear all the way home to their hotel following our picnic. The teddy bear also was this year’s Olympic style bear in celebration for the Olympics. Thank you Build-A-Bear for donating our teddy bear for our picnic! I would also like to thank all of Amy’s friends who helped us by lending us tubs for ice and such! Amy, it was so nice to meet you in person after becoming friends with you through our support group over the past 2.5 years! Amy’s kids and mine are about the same age and we have learned a lot together. I enjoyed meeting Steph, Stephanie, Jordan, Eva, and Sebastian and Steph’s grandparents. Thank you for helping me host this picnic in your area. I could not have done this without you! I truly enjoyed this picnic as I was able to mingle with so many of you who I have gotten to know through our support group. It was so rewarding to meet everyone! Thank you for supporting me in my mission to help bring families together and in helping educate everyone about “all” of their options.
Somerset, New Jersey (USA)
SOMERSET, NEW JERSEY
AUGUST 11, 2012
On Saturday, August 11, 2012, we hosted our Microtia and Atresia summer family picnic in Somerset, New Jersey. We had around 100 people attend! For a day that was supposed to rain, it never did and the day was beautiful. The kids played and families mingled while enjoying a nice lunch. A special thank you to our two hosts, Alex and Lucy (RMA) Freitas and to Lynn and Jake (BMA) Whitenight. Thank you for managing this picnic for everyone because I could not have done it without your help! I would like to thank Cochlear, Oticon Medical, and Sophono for sponsoring our picnic and for providing fun entertainment for the kids our our lunch for everyone. We had a blast with face painters and balloon makers while parents educated themselves more about hearing loss and were able to try on sound processors/Bahas thanks to Cochlear, Oticon Medical, and Sophono for bringing them to be included as part of our education at our picnic. Thank you Cochlear, Oticon, and Sophono for making our picnic possible! Thank you also to Oticon Medical for offering a nice tour of their new building to the families who attended our Somerset picnic as Somerset is headquarters for Oticon in the US. Thank you for offering this option for the families so they could learn more about bone conduction hearing devices, hearing loss, and about Oticon. A special thank you to Dr. Russell Griffiths who is an expert Rib Graft and Medpor ear reconstruction surgeon who came all the way from Idaho to be with all of us at our picnic in Somerset. Thank you Dr. Griffiths! I was pleased to hear back from so many families that they had a great time and it is always nice to have the kids play and know that they are not alone. Thanks again Alex and Lynn.