Imagine having something to say and being silenced by your own body. This is what it feels like for the over 70 million people who stutter, and the five percent of children who are unable to easily express themselves every single day. Not only are these kids physically silenced, but many times they are subsequently ridiculed, teased and bullied because of something utterly out of their control.
Thankfully, one organization has been on the forefront of addressing the physical, social and mental roadblocks of stuttering in young people. The Stuttering Association of the Young (SAY) is a non-profit which gives kids and teens a voice by helping them step out of their comfort zones and find self-esteem and even confidence by creating and performing. And to help those of us who are able to say what we want, when we want, understand how easy it is to take it for granted.
Since 2001, SAY has never turned away a child from its programming due to finances, and that’s because all of the amazing donations from supporters. In addition, celebrities like Paul Rudd and Mariska Hargitay, as well as sports figures like former Houston Astros slugger George Springer, have been working closely with the organization, and the kids, to help secure the future of its creative arts programming, speech therapy and even summer camp for children all over the world. And, before he passed away in April, the legendary singer/songwriter Bill Withers partnered with SAY to share his experiences about his own debilitating stutter as a child—as well as perform at yearly SAY benefits.
Of course, fundraising in the time of Covid has changed how we give. Unable to gather in person and share our passions over drinks, canapés and entertainment, we are relegated to doing it the way we do most social events these days: virtually. And though it may not be as exciting, attending virtual fundraisers is crucial to those in need at this unprecedented time. Which is why SAY will be live-streaming its Under One Moon:Voices United! virtual winter benefit tonight, Tuesday, December 8 at 7pm ET. It may not be the same, but you can still be serenaded by the likes of Broadway sweetheart, Kelli O’Hara, Hamilton and Rent star Brandon Victor Dixon, and joined by a special appearance of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt star James Monroe Iglehart and Dame Helen Mirren, who hosted the live gala in years past.
So, please join us in celebrating with this star-studded cast and give whatever you can to a cause close to the heart of our very own President-elect, Joe Biden, who recently opened up about his own struggle with a lifelong stutter. Because if he can do it, so can these amazing kids—who with your help can look forward to years of community and encouragement, and a future full of self-expression without judgment and shame.