AudiologyOnline: Congratulations on getting November 9 officially recognized as National Microtia Awareness Day. Why was having a national day for microtia awareness important to you?
Melissa Tumblin: It is the intention of Microtia Awareness Day to help promote public awareness. As the mother of a child who has microtia, and the founder of Ear Community, my hope is that families who have new babies born with microtia will leave the hospital armed with more answers than questions, and their dreams for their children intact. I think that if more people learn about microtia and atresia, that they will be kinder and more accepting. It is also my intention for anyone who is born without an ear(s) to realize that they are not alone. Through this national day, they can find out about organizations and resources for information and support.
AudiologyOnline: How did you go about making National Microtia Awareness Day officially recognized?
Melissa: This is something that I have wanted to do for a very long time now. There are so many awareness days with great causes behind them, and it was important for me to have a day for individuals with microtia and atresia, too. As a nonprofit organization that helps individuals who are born with microtia and atresia, it is part of Ear Community’s mission to promote public awareness. After trying on my own to get this day officially recognized and not being successful, I partnered with an organization who specializes in awareness days. After a long and complex process, we did it! National Microtia Awareness Day will now take place on November 9th, every year in the United States, beginning in 2016.
Founder and Executive Director of the Ear Community
Melissa Tumblin is mom to Alyssa “Ally” Tumblin, a child born with right sided Microtia and Aural Atresia. She is the Founder and Executive Director of Ear Community, a nonprofit organization that promotes educational and public awareness about Microtia and Atresia and hearing loss, in an unbiased manner, while promoting advocacy and connecting individuals in the same situation. She is also the founder of the Microtia and Atresia Support Group on Facebook. She is a past board member for the Hands & Voices Organization and a past council member for the Parent Advocacy Family Council for Children’s Hospital Colorado (Bill Daniels Center for Children’s Hearing). She has spoken at microtia and atresia surgical conferences and has presented at past EAA (Educational Audiology Association) conferences and for AudiologyOnline. Melissa has over 15 years experience in marketing medical device equipment.