On June 10, 2007 AIS launched its Inaugural Benefit Gala on board the magnificent Queen Mary 2 ship. CBS News Anchor Katie Couric hosted the event and presented the Freeing Voices, Changing Lives awards to our Honorees. Receiving the awards were singer/songwriter Carly Simon, author, Dominick Dunne, NBA All-Star, Kenyon Martin and ﬁtness entrepreneur Jake Steinfeld, all whose outstanding achievements are well known and who all have personally dealt with stuttering.
The award is in the form of a blue crystal iceberg. One of our field’s pioneer, the late Dr.Joseph Sheehan originated the iceberg as the perfect metaphor for stuttering; that what one observes of stuttering is just the tip of the iceberg and that there can be so very much pain and suffering going on beneath the surface that the uninformed observer simply does not see or understand. Our Galas not only serve to raise much needed funds, they also provide great opportunity to raise public awareness of this disorder which is still so terribly misunderstood.
NBA Star and AIS Board Member Kenyon Martin Hosts Event for AIS Kids and Teens
We are very pleased and honored that Denver Nuggets star Kenyon Martin (aka “K Mart”) is a member of our Board of Directors of the American Institute for Stuttering. Kenyon has personally dealt with stuttering and has generously stepped forward to join in our effort to raise public awareness about stuttering. Kenyon kicked it off by hosting a “Meet & Greet” event at the NBA Store in Manhattan.
Our AIS kids and teens were invited to the store’s “Center Court” to meet the basketball star. After chowing down on snacks, shooting some hoops and playing video games, the kids and parents were seated in the bleacher section to await the arrival of the big guy. Kenyon spoke about his own stuttering as he encouraged the kids to be proud of themselves, not to let their stuttering hold them back and then opened it up for questions. The kids’ questions ranged from “Did you ever get help for your speech?” (“Not really much”) or “Was it hard for you to talk to girls?” (“Yup”) to What kind of car do you drive?! (He has two and one of them is a Rolls Royce). He was warm, easy going and charming with the kids and they loved him. We were so proud of our kids and teens who jumped in to ask questions in what we hoped would be a stutter-friendly environment, in spite of the fact that there was quite a crowd and lots of media!
The kids all received a goody bag including a Reebok t-shirt provided by Kenyon that read in the Denver Nuggets blue & yellow: KENYON’S KIDS! They all had a chance to meet him, have a photo taken and get an autograph or two. On the following day, we were all treated as his guests at the Denver Nuggets-New Jersey Nets game. This will truly be something they will remember for the rest of their lives. All in all, a great weekend with lots of gratitude to Kenyon! What a wonderful gift he gave!