ARKANSAS (KNWA/KFTA) — This is National Stuttering Awareness week, May 11-17. It’s something that impacts about three million Americans and affects people of all ages, according to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communications Disorders, a division of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.
Stuttering Foundation of America (SFA), based in Memphis, Tennessee, has offered assistance to individuals, families, universities, and other agencies for 80 years. It is the largest nonprofit charitable organization in the world, according to its website.
SFA provides materials and publications to 137 countries that are widely used in schools, universities, and to train speech pathologists around the world. Print materials have been translated into 32 languages. “We are making sure to protect each translation and make it available without charge to everyone who stutters,” said SFA President Jane Fraser.
SOME STUTTERERS DON’T STUTTER WHILE SINGING!
Fraser said singing originates in a different part of the brain. Vocal chords open up while singing and the words to songs are memorized. “There is no word retrieval involved,” she said, “and you’ve got the air-flow going.” Also, there is a cadence while singing, and generally, people are happy while singing.
Looking ahead: Fraser said she is grateful for the internet because more information can be shared to help people who stutter. The foundation has launched a virtual learning series. “You can tune-in with Zoom for an hour long session about stuttering.” There is also a Stuttering Foundation Podcast (stutteringhelp.org/podcast).
STUTTERING FOUNDATION FOUNDER MALCOLM FRASER 1903-1994
As a child, Jane Fraser remembers going to a store with her dad, who stuttered. “I listened to him explain what he needed. I would just wait and watch until he got his point across,” she said.
Malcolm’s brother founded the National Automotive Parts Association (NAPA) — as in NAPA Auto Parts — in 1925. In 1928, Malcolm joined the company and served on the board until his death in 1994. “My dad listened to the employees. On each employee’s birthday he would meet with them one-on-one … he knew his employees,” said Fraser, “he was a wonderful listener.”
At age 43, Malcolm created the stuttering foundation, as stuttering was his handicap. He wanted to give a substantial part of his earnings to the foundation to ensure it would always exist. “We have 13,000 donors across the world [today],” said Fraser.
At age 80, Malcolm told his daughter, “I want you to run the foundation.” Fraser, who was living in France at the time, and married, agreed. Forty years later, she continues to uphold her dad’s request.
Malcolm’s 400 shares of Genuine Parts Company (owner of NAPA Auto Parts brand) were donated in 1949 and placed in a safe deposit box — and are still there. Through stock splits, there are now 169,359 shares worth more than $15.7 million and have generated more than $6.5 million in dividends.
FAMOUS ENTERTAINERS WHO STUTTER
- Marc Anthony — singer
- Emily Blunt — actress
- Leon Botstein — music conductor
- Wayne Brady — singer/host
- Garret Dillahunt — actor
- Robert Donat — actor
- Sheila Fraser — actress
- Noel Gallagher — singer
- Francois Goudreault — singer
- Jason Gray — Christian singer
- Ray Griff — country singer
- Tim Gunn — actor, host Project Runway
- Steve Harvey — comedian, host
- John Lee Hooker — blues singer
- Samuel L. Jackson — actor
- Scatman John — jazz musician
- James Earl Jones — actor
- Harvey Keitel — actor, former court report NYC
- Nicole Kidman — actress
- B.B. King — blues guitarist/singer
- Kendrick Lamar — hip-hop artist
- Peggy Lipton — actress/model
- Doug MacLeod — blues musician
- Raymond Massey — actor
- John Melendez — musician/actor
- Robert Merrill — opera singer
- Marilyn Monroe — actress
- Sam Meill — actor
- Jack Paar — radio/tv host
- Elvis Presley — singer/actor
- Anthony Quinn — actor
- Eric Roberts — actor
- Hrithik Roshan — Indian actor
- Mike Rowe — actor/opera singer
- Budd Schulberg — screenwriter/novelist
- Charlie Sheen — actor
- Ed Sheeran — singer
- Carly Simon — singer
- Tom Sizemore — actor
- Jimmy Stewart — actor
- Mel Tillis — country singer
- Megan Washington — Australian musician/songwriter
- Michelle Williams — singer/songwriter
- Bruce Willis — actor
- Ann Wilson — singer/songwriter/guitarist (Heart)
- Bill Withers — singer/songwriter
- Shane Yellowbird — Canadian singer/songwriter
SPORTS STARS WHO STUTTER
- Rubin “Hurricane” Carter — former prizefighter
- Johnny Damon — retired MLB outfielder and designated hitter
- Antonio Dixon — NFL defensive tackle overcame stuttering, homelessness, and learning disabilities to graduate from the University of Miami
- Sophie Gustafson — member of the LPGA tour
- Lester Hayes — former NFL defensive back
- Bo Jackson — multi-sport professional athlete
- Tommy John — former Oakland A’s and Yankees pitcher
- JuanFran (Juan Francisco Garcia Garcia) — soccer player Real Madrid/Celta
- Michael Kidd-Gilchrist —basketball player
- Gordie Lane — hockey, NY Islanders
- Greg Louganis — Olympic diving champion
- Shaquille O’Neal — former NBA’er
- Bob Sanders — Green Bay Packers’ defensive coordinator; coached college football for 22 yrs.
- Matt Slauson — NFL Chicago Bears
- Darren Sproles — NFL running back
- Ken Venturi — late legendary golfer Ken Venturi, U.S. Open Champion, was a successful commentator for CBS Sports
- Herschel Walker — Heisman Trophy winning running back played for the Dallas Cowboys, the Minnesota Vikings, the Philadelphia Eagles, and the New York Giants
- Bill Walton — NBA All-Star and Hall of Famer
- Tiger Woods — golfer; began to play golf at 2 years old