They say when you throw a stone into the water of life, you never know how many ripples you create. I'd be honored to inform you of one of yours...
You don't know me, but at my college graduation you were our commencement speaker. I was young and ready to take on the world, but when I listened to your story of growing up with a paralyzing grip with the struggles of stuttering, something stirred inside.
You spoke of feeling unable to speak to unknown listeners and how once even news teams and the vice president sat outside your front door, causing panic between yourself and the thought of speaking out loud.
You continued to describe how the effects of your stutter controlled countless elements of your life, until one day you learned of an intense program that changed everything. You explained how you worked with speech therapists, relearning elements even down to the letter.
Your beautifully eloquent speech was met with rounds of applause, but for me there was more. A switch had turned on and I couldn't wait to gather my diploma, hug my family and friends and share the good news.
"That's what I'm going to do." I beamed to my bewildered parents. I hadn't taken one class in the field and had no idea how intense the road would be to get there, after completing the drudgery of graduate school, I never looked back.
You were a great influence with a powerful message that has been such a part of my journey...and I've been fortunate to work with people and patients in situations at times that would seem to be unfathomable. I've held hands and listened to unimaginable stories from people varying from World War II concentration camp survivors to victims who lived from within the collapsed twin towers on 9/11.
One of my most memorable experiences was working with an elderly man, who after following a stroke was unable to speak. His receptive language was intact so he was able to comprehend, however it was devastating to watch his family wish for words in his ending days. Handing him a notebook and pen, he weakly wrote his final message, "God is good", in which his family held onto both physically and emotionally.
The speech you gave and the examples you provided stayed with me throughout. It's been years now, but my heart was touched yet again by a child just last week. He's ten and he stutters. He explained how much it bothers him and how he sometimes doesn't want to talk to his friends because he's afraid of how it will come out. You immediately came to mind and I made it my mission to work with him, hoping to have one fraction of the impact on his life as you've had on mine.
So thank you, Mrs. Glenn. Thank you for your words, your wisdom and your willingness to share your journey. I know you've touched the lives of countless others and I'm sure each and everyone one of them share my sentiment. You are a shining light who has opened the eyes of many, in ways you may never fully comprehend...and the stone you've thrown into these waters of life...will forever have ripples beyond compare.