"People with aphasia get better. I'm getting better."
Atlanta--Those were the stirring words of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords at the 2012 ASHA Awards. Giffords and her husband, Captain Mark Kelly received what association president Shelly Chabon called, "ASHA's most prestigious award, the Annie." The Annie is named for dedicated champion for people with communication disorders, Annie Glenn. Annie, the wife of former astronaut and senator John Glenn, was an 85% stutterer. With the help of her dedicated team of speech therapists over many years. she went from not being able to tell a cab driver where she wanted to go, to being able to attend the yearly ASHA convention along with her husband of 69 years to present her namesake award. Mrs. Glenn once said of speech therapy, "I feel like a butterfly let out of a cocoon."
Senator Glenn took the stage after Chabon to introduce his wife. He marveled at the progress she made and how stuttering treatment changes her life. "Now she can express herself." The Senator added that Annie's mental courage, approaching something with difficulty, is "beyond belief," just like the courage of the night's honorees. But he was just the warm-up for his wife, who told the packed house at the Georgia World Congress Center ballroom, "Your dedication, patience and skills changes lives." She cited the Congresswoman's recitation of the pledge of allegiance at this summer's Democratic National Convention as a testament to the power of speech therapy. "Speech-language pathologists pushed her in times of discouragement.
Mrs. Glenn recognized Congresswoman Giffords and Captain Kelly for their "mighty power in increasing awareness of communication disorders." Their dedication to each other has been paramount in her recovery. "As Gabby learns new things, Mark also learns how to support her and how to educate the world about communication disorder," she observed.
The support and love between Giffords and Kelly was clear, as both took to the stage, greeted by the longest standing ovation of the evening. Kelly thanked the crowd, adding, "But I know you're not here to hear me talk." Waving to some of her speech-language pathologists in the crowd, Gabrielle Giffords took to the mic and gave a brief, heartfelt, grateful speech. She thanked ASHA for the award and proclaimed, "People with aphasia get better. I'm getting better."