The 6th Annual Benefit Gala was an exciting evening, celebrating the hope, perseverance, and courage of people who stutter.
Sam Waterson, a friend of the Institute since its founding days, served as Master of Ceremonies. John Glenn and Annie Glenn were this year’s Honorary Chairs along with AIS Board member Emily Blunt, who sent a heart-felt video recording expressing her good wishes and intention to return as MC in 2013.
Board Chairman Nolan Russo and Gala Co-Chair Michael Sheehan kicked the evening off with a warm welcome and expression of appreciation to the crowd. This year’s Freeing Voices Changing Lives Leadership awards were presented to two individuals who have excelled in their careers despite stuttering and have positively affected the lives of others through their personal contributions. The first award of the evening was presented by news anchor Josh Elliott to baseball legend Tommy John. AIS Board member and journalist Clarence Page presented to the second 2012 honoree, Governor Thomas Kean.
Tonight marked the first presentation of the Catherine Montgomery Advocacy award, given to Sir Harold Evans and Tina Brown for their years of unwavering support of the AIS mission. The award was presented poignantly by their personal friend and AIS supporter Barbara Walters.
AIS Clinic Director Dr. Heather L. Grossman discussed some of the challenges that people who stutter experience everyday and introduced four young people who were each clients of the Institute.
In what proved to be the highlight of the evening, the speeches by Tim McCarren, age 22, Julia, 16, Emanuel, 12 and 8 year-old Miki outlined the personal satisfaction and freedom that comes from gaining the attitudes, skills, and strategies needed to manage stuttering.
AIS Board member Barry Blaustein reprised his role as auctioneer, inspiring the continued generosity of supporters who help us make quality stuttering therapy available to those who would not otherwise be able to afford.