It’s been another summer full of amazing picnics hosted by our friends over at Ear Community—with a few more still to come! Each year Ear Community hosts picnics all over the world, where families come together to learn from each other, discuss the latest hearing technology, have fun in the sun, and meet other members of the community!
Weesie Pals are custom stuffed animals that can be made to have a little ear and stuffed toy bone anchored hearing device. Weesie Pals are created by Erin Wozniak who was inspired by her daughter Elyse. Elyse, who’s nickname is Weesie, was born with left-side Microtia and Atresia, meaning her ear did not fully develop. Elyse, now two years old, wears a Ponto Pro on a softband.
“When Elyse was an infant, I wanted her to have some type of toy that she could identify with and a way to reinforce her wearing the Bone Anchored Hearing System (BAHS). Also, you can take the device off of the stuffed animal and put it on anything– even someone else. Even mommy can wear it!”
When Erin made the first Weesie Pal, a mouse, Elyse loved it and wouldn’t put it down. As an artist and art teacher, Erin is always making things but oil painting and drawing are her expertise. When it came to sewing, she taught herself. She’s a quick study, because now there are a variety of options.
Meet Vishal, a 10-year-old musician with Microtia and Atresia. We first met Vishal when he posted this message on the Oticon Medical Facebook Page:
10 years old – born with Microtia and Aural Atresia.
Student of grade 5.
I grow up in Germany because my Dad has his office out here.
He loves music.
At first he is shocked because his son is born with Microtia.
Then he remembers his conversation with God before I was born.
God was looking for parents for me like the ones I have.
My Dad promised God to be the best Dad ever.
The German Doc told my Dad just after my birth that I would not be able to hear nor speak.
My dad trusts in God and in His ways.
I get a Softband Oticon.
I win a first prize in a music competition in Germany!
Here’s Vishal to share a bit of his musical journey.
The strength of the bond between siblings is hard to define. The love we feel for our brothers and sisters is unconditional, and in some cases, truly inspiring to others. Brother and sister Derek and Kelley Dwyer are an example of inseparable siblings who would do anything to help each other.
As you may already know if you spend time with us here on the blog or on Facebook or Twitter, our friends at Ear Community, a 501c3 nonprofit organization, help people born with Microtia and Atresia, which results in hearing loss. Through donations, they provide equipment and services to help those suffering from these limitations to gain a greater ability to hear and communicate with others.
Ear Community recently shared the story of Derek Dwyer and his sister Dr. Kelley Dwyer. Derek Dwyer is a 22-year-old computer engineering and graphic design major at Gwinnett Technical College. He’s a passionate fan of music and technology. The youngest of three siblings, Derek was born with Nager Syndrome and bilateral Microtia and Atresia. Microtia and Atresia have contributed to hearing loss for Derek, making it difficult to listen in lectures and communicate with others in school.
His sister, Dr. Kelley Dwyer recently graduated with her doctorate in Audiology and serves as a pediatric audiologist at Pediatric ENT of Atlanta. She has studied and worked tirelessly to help her brother, who serves as a source of motivation to her. “Derek has been my biggest inspiration in life…he defies the expectations of a special needs person and knows no boundaries to his capabilities.”
After discovering Ear Community and the opportunity for equipment that would assist her brother in his transition into college life, Dr. Dwyer applied. “Derek never asks for anything, so I am going to ask for him.”