On July 9th, 2020, AIS held its 14 th Annual Gala. Hundreds of guests attended the virtual event, and it was an evening filled with heartfelt conversation and recognition of the life-changing impact that AIS has on its clients. Eric Dinallo, AIS’s Board Chair, served as one of the hosts for the event, and led off the evening with warmth and candor.
Award-winning actress and producer and AIS Board Member, Emily Blunt, also acted as a host and moderated a discussion about stuttering and its affects between presidential candidate Joe Biden and The Atlantic’s Senior Politics Reporter John Hendrickson. All three were open about their struggles as people who stutter, and how they each found paths to accept and embrace this condition as part of their lives. The full conversation can be seen below.
Reflecting on how stuttering impacted his life, Vice President 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 how others see people who stutter, “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.”
Journalist Clarence Page and 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, discussed what AIS offers to people who stutter. Arthur Blank explained, "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.”
The Atlantic’s John Hendrickson received an award for his outstanding work on drawing visibility and understanding to the public about stuttering, and his remarks about what it is like to be a person who stutters was both touching and informative.
Finally, Austin Pendleton, Wayne Brady, and a host of wonderful clients and friends participated in the evening, sharing stories and successes and appreciation for all of the important work that AIS does. We are so proud of what we accomplished – we cannot wait to see what next year’s Gala brings!
Want to see more of the evening? You can watch the full event below.