Medical Art Resources

Restoring Confidence with Lifelike Prosthetics

Restoring Confidence with Lifelike Prosthetics

State of the Art (Blog)

Ear Community Chicago 2013 Picnic

Last weekend, Medical Art Resources (Julie and Megan) attended a community picnic organized by a fabulous organization, Ear Community. Just under 200 children, parents, family members, and friends affected by microtia and atresia attended the picnic, which took place in a beautiful park outside of Chicago. Ear Community picnics take place in different locations around the world each summer, giving families and children with microtia the opportunity to meet each other and to chat with ear reconstructive surgeons, anaplastologists, and audiologists. Families traveled from the Chicagoland area, Indiana, and even Kentucky to attend the picnic. Face painting, yard games, and a magic show made the picnic a lot of fun for the children in attendance, many of whom were meeting other children with microtia for the very first time.

We weren’t sure what to expect at our first Ear Community picnic, but we thought it would be fun to bring an activity for all of the children in attendance. While parents had the chance to ask questions about prosthetic ears, their children made molds of their fingers. Kids mixed powdered impression material with water to the correct consistency and then dipped a finger into the blue goop until it became firm. Then a fast-set plaster was poured into the impression to create a cast of the child’s finger that could be taken home as a picnic souvenir.

Ear Community Chicago 2013 Picnic

Dipping a finger into the impression material.


Ear Community Chicago 2013 Picnic

Perfectly messy!

We were very excited to attend the picnic and to meet the founder of Ear Community, Melissa Tumblin. Melissa was inspired to start Ear Community after her own troubling experience of finding so few resources about microtia and atresia when her daughter, Ally, was born with the condition almost 4 years ago. Melissa wanted to be able to share the information she collected about microtia and atresia with other families and to form a support network for parents, children, and adults going through the same experience. The Ear Community website is an incredibly detailed resource that is updated frequently. The Ear Community Facebook page and the Microtia and Atresia Support Group Facebook page are very active as well. Read more about Ear Community in our post about the organization.

Ear Community Picnic Chicago 2013

Megan making finger molds with picnic attendees.

We had such a wonderful time meeting the parents and children at the picnic and observing so many families sharing their stories and experiences with one another. Thank you to Melissa Tumblin and Tina Siskoff (Chicago picnic organizer) for all their hard work. We’re already looking forward to the next Ear Community Picnic!

Julie and Megan


  • Megan and Julie and Annie, Thank you so much for coming to the Ear Community picnic in Chicago! I also enjoyed meeting you as well and loved that Annie was happy to share her experience with her prosthetic ear which I thought looked amazing! I am happy you enjoyed our picnic and they are all wonderful, just like this one. I am looking forward to seeing you in the future at more Ear Community picnics and thank you for helping educate everyone on prosthetic options. Thanks,
    Melissa Tumblin
    Founder of Ear Community
    Founder of the Microtia and Atresia Support Group on Facebook

    • Rosie Seelaus says:

      Julie & Megan, and All at the Ear Community Picnic, Sorry to have missed you this year; I had hoped to join you! Next year for sure!! Let’s put it on the calendar. Heard it was a great event! A Big Thank you to the Ear Community.
      Rosie Seelaus
      The Craniofacial Center
      University of Illinois at Chicago

      • Megan Thomas says:

        Rosie, you will love the picnic! We’re already looking forward to next year. We will definitely put it on the calendar. Thanks for reading!

  • Florian says:

    I am a regular foollwer of your sisters blog, and I have 3 and a half year old twin girls, one of whom was born with right side microtia and an underdeveloped right jaw. They were born in NYC 3 years after my father died suddenly at the age of 60, just before my wedding. I have had the exact same thoughts- that his death prepared me for her birth and the months to follow. My memory of the early days is hazy, but I will never in my life forget the pediatrician telling us as they whisked her to the NICU because she was little, She is missing an ear. As you and I now know, this is something that not ideal but manageable. At the time however, those words and that fact affected me in a place I didnt even realize I had in my being. As she’s grown into the smart, sweet and curious girl she is, I am sad now only for her, for the surgeries she will go through in her early school years when her only worries should be playing and learning. But I also know that the calmly strong, unflappable personality she has likely came with her for a greater purpose, to get her through the challenges she’ll have that other kids won’t. Thanks you for writing this. It helped me process some of my thoughts about my own daughters birth better than I could have on my own. I’m glad your daughter is doing so well. Happy belated Mothers Day.

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