Award-winning actress and producer, American Institute for Stuttering Board Member, and longtime supporter, Emily Blunt hosted the 14th annual American Institute for Stuttering’s (AIS) Benefit Gala, which went virtual this year due to the Covid-19 crisis.
The evening featured a personal conversation with Vice President Joe Biden, Emily Blunt and The Atlantic’s Senior Politics reporter, John Hendrickson, a life-long stutterer.
Eric Dinallo, Chairman of the AIS Board of Directors, said, “We are privileged to have this illustrious group as champions of AIS. Vice President Biden has always been direct about the challenges that stuttering brings. Emily Blunt has brought a great deal of important visibility to the issues of stuttering and inclusivity. And, John Hendrickson has captured in print the emotional complexities of people who stutter. We celebrate their dedication, their candor, and their leadership.”
Reflecting how stuttering impacted his life, Joe Biden said, “In the end, it will be a gift, it will have a lot to do with who I become, have a lot to do with what I set out to try to do. I always was the guy who thought I could fix everything and I think it’s given me an insight that I wouldn’t have otherwise had… Remember, you can make a gigantic difference in a kid’s life and there’s so many talented kids out there now that are part of this organization.”
Emily Blunt also shared her personal connection to the cause, “They often think of it as psychological, or that you have a nervous disposition or something – but it is hereditary. It is neurological, it is not your fault and there’s nothing you can do about it. I just want kids to really remember that, you know, and I want the awareness to be raised about that so that we can really support these kids and make it known that it’s very common.”
Longtime AIS supporter, co-founder of The Home Depot, and owner of both the Atlanta Falcons and Atlanta United, a Major League Soccer team, Arthur M. Blank, shared what the Institute means to him, “As someone who stuttered as a child, I know how it feels to be dismissed because of the fluency of speech. It’s important that every voice is heard, which is why I’m proud to support the American Institute for Stuttering. What really matters is that you speak your truth, whether you stutter or not, and believe in yourself.”
Now, more than ever before, AIS’ work has become critical as many clients who stutter have reported feelings of isolation and concern about the lack of social interaction that has resulted from the pandemic. AIS has continued to provide a supportive sense of community during these very difficult times.
“We expect that as public awareness of stuttering continues to increase, we will see a decline in negative media portrayals and the still-present mockery and discrimination that people who stutter often unfortunately receive,” said Dr. Heather Grossman, AIS Director and therapist.
More than 3 million Americans and 60 million people worldwide stutter. AIS offers full and partial scholarships for its therapy, and has treated over 10,000 people across the United States in its 33-year history.
The American Institute for Stuttering offers affordable, state-of-the-art stuttering therapy and support to people who stutter of all ages as well as guidance to their families. AIS also provides much needed clinical training to speech-language professionals and students seeking expertise in stuttering treatment.