This past weekend, the NFL playoffs kicked off, launching the most popular sport on this continent's second season. As they do, they brand a slogan to highlight the desire and the dreams of getting to the Super Bowl to play for a championship. A few years ago, the mantra was "Show me something." This year, it's "Believe in now." This naturally got me thinking about what we, as people who stutter, can believe in.
You see, January has always been the month where we start our resolutions...that is, if you believe in them. Some people do, others have given up a long time ago. Some want to stop smoking. Others want to lose weight, or maybe this is the year to fall in love. I've always been curious what makes us believe in something? It may be values. Or a mission that needs to be carried out. You can believe in many different kinds of things. Angels. Faith. The New York Yankees. (Sorry, I couldn't resist). But I also believe in above all else, that people can be amazing. They can reach out and change someone's life. They can stand up and refuse to let something dictate the way their life is run. I believe in the National Stuttering Association. I believe in my teammates. I believe that when you raise your voice, everyone listens. And everyone who does listen is all the better for it.
This year has been marked by hope so far. I am not going to turn this into a political debate, this just isn't the right place for it at all. But reading the message boards and seeing people do things to raise awareness about just how important the NSA is, that's what I believe in. I believe in the media being able to share our stories and tell the rest of the world about us. I believe in so many things about the NSA.
I also believe that sometimes you read a quote and it catches your attention, and no matter how many times you look at it, it still catches you off time and makes you analyze the words. Recently I was checking out a blog written by a well-known DJ in the Southeast. She is a big part of a morning show based out of Atlanta. I read her story and it truly inspired me. She is a recipient of a kidney transplant and has really lived her life to the fullest. But on her blog, there was one sentence that summed it up perfectly.
"I still believe that anyone in this country can be whoever they want to be. It may take more effort for some, but nothing is impossible. That is America. And try as they might, those who try to keep us on an "us and them" measuring scale, you will fail. America will make sure of that."
I've met teammates at the NSA who never let their stuttering stand in the way of doing anything. They're living proof of these words. May you become a teammate of the NSA as well.
My name is Steven Kaufman, and I am a person who stutters. Until next time, stand up and be counted. Make your voice heard.