Good evening everyone. This past Sunday, the National Hockey League hosted the annual All-Star Game in Montreal. You may have heard people say if hockey is a religion, Montreal is the cathedral. There's no denying the history they've had. But above all else, there's one quote that summarizes their team, which is a line from the poem "In Flanders Field." It states "From failing hands we throw the torch, be yours to hold it high."
When I was asked to speak at the opening ceremonies for the 2008 NSA Conference in North Jersey, that was a tremendous honor. As I have stated time and again, I do not have friends at these gatherings. I have teammates who refuse to put themselves above the NSA. In this day and age, we often hear talk about "Who our real friends are?". Well, I want to ask you a question: Who are your teammates? Do they commit to you their loyalty and support? Will they sacrifice personal feelings for the betterment of the organization? If you wouldn't mind, do an exercise for me. Count on both hands the number of people you know, and know really well. Now, ask yourself how well you really know them. Do you know their values? Or do you know facts about them? There is a big difference, and that lesson took me a long time to learn. The age we live in, people are willing to overlook so many things just for a quick fix. There is no quick fix, not in this time. We need to be in this for the long haul. I made a mistake quitting speech therapy once, and I know if I miss one session, my speech goes downhill. I am committed to speaking. I am committed to being heard.
When I think of myself as a chapter leader, I don't just see myself as the "head" of a group. I see it as my duty. Bryan Trottier, the New York Islanders superstar center who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1997, writes a monthly column for Islanders Illustrated, wherein this month he talked about the mentality that players who score goals need to have. What is my goal? My goal is to make the NSA stronger however I can. And when he spoke, he cited that he interviewed many great scorers from different eras, and they had one theme in common: They all had that mentality, that "They must help the team win." We all must help the NSA in whatever form we can.
When that torch is thrown to you....take all your energy and lift it as high you can. You can make a difference....and hold yourself up very high!!!
My name is Steven Kaufman and I am a person who stutters. Until next time, stand up and be counted. Make your voice heard.