Monday, July 20, 2009

Karma, Arizona, and building your base of teammates!

Good evening everyone,

One of the biggest highlights when the National Stuttering Association annual conference is ongoing is the Friday night activity selection, of which a baseball game is usually incorporated. Although I missed out on the Angels game in Long Beach because I signed up at the last minute, I do not miss the game when the tickets go on sale for teammates to purchase. From a Braves-Nationals affair in Atlanta, to the Subway Series in New York, you can't beat the thrill of chatting with your teammates and falling in love all over again with the NSA over a hot dog and cold beer. This year, about 100+ teammates and I went to Chase Field to see the Arizona Diamondbacks host the Florida Marlins. As I was perusing the free program, I wanted to share some observations on a column written by Derrick M. Hall, the CEO of the team. He acknowledges that while the season has been a challenge, he also knows that "it is in trying times that fan bases are established." He also writes how he admires those other organizations who may not win yearly, but still have devout followers.

I like to think of the NSA as the world's greatest fan club for teammates who stutter. Or, as one of my other teammates unofficially coined the phrase "The world's biggest block party." However, at one time the NSA was dangerously close to closing it doors forever. I am frightened to think of a world where this truly amazing organization would not exist. At this past conference, we set a record with 160 first-timers, who have experienced the power and love of the National Stuttering Association and what we do. Some of them, when they find out that at one time we almost ceased to exist, are puzzled as to why. Similar to what Mr. Hall wrote, it is in these times when we find out who stands with the NSA and who doesn't.

I always enjoy watching the auction, and listening to the opening remarks by our auctioneer. Our auctioneer is an inductee into the NSA Hall of Fame, as well as a caring veterinarian. And while we do actively raise funds because we are nonprofit, we too also know that our teammates will stand up for the NSA. I hope to participate next year in the auction, in addition to donating in any way I can.

At the opening ceremonies, our chair spoke about how the NSA is now the single biggest support organization for teammates who stutter. To think a few years ago how we were struggling and now, to run full-page advertisements in absolutely makes me proud....and forever honored to be part of the NSA. Now is the time to get involved. If you can't donate money, donate your time. Write. Help us with our web site. Prepare fundraising letters. As the theme from "Rent" goes, "There is no day but today!"

And to close on an interesting note.....I am a firm believer in karma. What you give really will come back to you. On the night we went to the game, Friday, July 10, 2009, the Arizona Diamondbacks were in last place. (they still are, and probably will be for the rest of the year). Wouldn't you know, the home team won 9-0, with Dan Haren throwing a complete game, six-hit shutout. And to top it all off....we had 602 teammates in attendance. The area code for Phoenix just happens to be 602. Some things really are special magic, and you know you were blessed to be part of it. I definitely was. So were 602 other teammates.

My name is Steven Kaufman and I am a person who stutters. Until next time, stand up and be counted. Make your voice heard.

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