Meet Derek Dwyer, a 22 year old from Snellville, Georgia, currently attending Gwinnett Technical College. Derek was born with Nager Syndrome and bilateral Microtia and Atresia and is the youngest of three siblings. Derek loves music and all things computer related since he is working toward a college degree in computer engineering and graphic design. Derek’s parents never treated him any differently from his other two siblings (brother Devin Dwyer and older sister, Kelley Dwyer). However, Derek’s mom, Lynda Dwyer, has been concerned about his hearing loss over the years and was worried about Derek being social with friends and being able to hear well enough in school and in college. While he has managed to get by, Derek does struggle with interpersonal communication and his family had hoped that his social circle would expand with his entrance to college. However, this has not yet happened for Derek and his family believes it may be partially due to the lack of confidence with his own voice, and his ability to participate in conversations and hear well in all situations. Derek’s sister, Kelley, says “Derek has been my biggest inspiration in life…he defies the expectations of a special needs person and knows no boundaries to his capabilities.” Derek lives in an apartment with his brother, Devin, and his roommates carrying on just like any college student would.
In May of this year (2014), Kelley graduated with her doctorate in Audiology and is currently a pediatric audiologist at Pediatric ENT of Atlanta in Georgia. Dr. Kelley Dwyer has waited her whole life to help her brother hear better and now that she is his audiologist for life, she finally gets the chance to do so. Dr. Dwyer has watched her brother struggle over the years and when growing up, her family didn’t always have the money to purchase hearing devices for him. Dr. Dwyer wants Derek to just feel comfortable everyday when being a part of social conversations. Dr. Dwyer says, “Derek never asks for anything, so I am going to ask for him.” She wanted him to adjust better to college when going back this fall. She says, “As a college student, I do not want him to struggle to hear the lecture content, when the content itself may be very difficult.”
Dr. Kelley Dwyer found Ear Community (a 501c3 nonprofit organization) and decided to apply on behalf of Derek. On September 19th, 2014, Dr. Dwyer fitted her brother with two new Oticon Medical Ponto Plus processors w/streamer. This was an exciting day for not only Derek, but for his family too! Joining Derek in his fitting were his older brother Devin, and their mom, Lynda. Derek’s sister, Kelley, was proud to fit him with his new Oticon Medical processors and streamer knowing that this will change his life forever and help him excel in college and in life. “My family really appreciates all that Ear Community has done and specifically the work the organization does for individuals born with Microtia and Atresia and for the hearing loss community,” says Dr. Dwyer. Dr. Dwyer stated that, “Derek LOVES the processors and the streamer! We will likely get him the remote mic for Christmas that he can use during his college lectures. I really feel that this will make a big difference in his social and school capabilities.” “Ear Community is happy to have been able to help Derek hear better,” says Melissa Tumblin, Founder of Ear Community. “No adult or child should ever have to struggle with learning in school, says Melissa. “It’s important for Ear Community to help individuals like Derek. We have so many bright individuals in our world and to find out when someone is struggling with their hearing is very disappointing. Individuals like Derek can be so much more if they are only given the opportunity to hear better with a hearing device…it can be life changing.” says Melissa Tumblin.
Thank you Dr. Dwyer, for not only applying to Ear Community for Derek to obtain a hearing device, but also for donating your time and services to program his new processors. Ear Community wishes to also say a very special thank you to Alan Raffauf, Vice President of Marketing of Oticon Medical, for donating these hearing devices to Ear Community so that the foundation could help Derek. Thank you Alan, for helping Dr. Dwyer follow her dream as an audiologist by helping her brother hear better with Oticon Medical processors. Thank you for your support and for helping Ear Community continue with its mission of helping the Microtia and Atresia community. While the Ear Community organization is proud to have donated Derek’s new Oticon Medical Ponto Plus System, none of this would have been possible without Oticon Medical donating this amazing hearing device to Ear Community to begin with. Oticon Medical believes in helping individuals with hearing loss so that they can live a better quality of life. Oticon Medical is a well respected international hearing device manufacturer that is a part of the “William Demant Group [which has] 100-plus years of experience in audiology and sound processing and established manufacturing and logistics infrastructure.”
Derek, all of us here at Ear Community are so proud of you and we know that you will become an amazing technical professional when you earn your college degree. For now, enjoy your new ears and enjoy college. Congrats on hearing better and in building your self confidence.
Founder of Ear Community
Ear Community Board Members