Good evening all my teammates,
The mercury climbed to 80 degrees here on Long Island, with not a cloud to be seen for miles, and golden sunshine splashing faces from Manhattan to the Hamptons and far as the eye can see. For some, there were barbecues to attend, beaches to bike to, or that last margarita which would taste so very sweet and last a whole year until it was time to open the bottle again. Labor Day often brings sadness because it means the summer has come to an end, and we will now return to the transtional stages of life-back to your school, the return to more crisp and raw weather, the snot rockets flying around. I too, like many others, used to feel that way. But this Labor Day, as I say goodbye to the summer of 2009, I also have to say thank you-because for the first time in my life, I am in love. I mean real love...with the National Stuttering Association.
In the course of life, we often search for some things that we know money will never buy. In those cases, it seems like the harder we look, the more elusive it becomes. Yet we often realize that sometimes the one thing we're looking for the most is the one that is right in front of us, and we fail to realize it. This past summer, my time in Arizona has led me to find the sheer joy of love-love of myself, love of the challenges I can face, and love of the most amazing teammates in the world.
One thing that I can say emphatically that I have found is the ability to BE. I was reading an article in The Sporting News called "Kids at Play" and there was a section dedicated to Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews and it was discussing the situation of how he handled the responsibility of being the captain of an NHL team at 20. I love being able to relate to hockey because that sport, above many others, demonstrate passion and teamwork because of multiple lines all working as one. Think about this quote: "A leader isn't a position, it's something you become." I tried to analyze it because you can apply it in so many ways. How does one become a leader? Well, you become one by relating to teammates. You continually reach out to your teammates time and again and emphasize the mission that needs to be completed. My mission, like other teammates, is to share the NSA with the world. Of course, some may tune me out, and if they do, I don't care. You will find out about the NSA and I, along with my teammates, will be the one to share it.
When I first attended my inuaugural conference in Long Beach, I never ever could have seen myself growing into a leader. But now, because of my journeys with the NSA, I am in love. I am in love with the workshops that are given. I am in love with seeing teammates undergo the metmorphisis, how they come in so anxious and leave with nothing but the bright confidence that will never go out.
May your summer have shown you what it is like to fall in love, and may the next seasons now and forever give you those feelings to keep your fire lit!!!
My name is Steven Kaufman and I am a person who stutters. Until next time, stand up and be counted. Make your voice heard.