In 2014, Astro outfielder George Springer became SAY’s national spokesperson and since then he has inspired countless people who stutter.
SAY stands for the Stuttering Association for the Young, and the non-profit organization believes that every voice matters. SAY offers comprehensive programs that address the physical, social and emotional impacts of stuttering. They also sponsor Camp SAY, a summer camp for young people who stutter.
“I can’t spread a message to kids and adults if I’m not willing to put myself out there,” Springer said.
Last year alone, Springer and SAY provided more than $1 million in financial aid and underwritten tuition support so more children could have access to its programs, including the two-week accredited summer camp for kids and teens 8 to 18 who stutter.
Camp SAY blends a traditional summer camp experience, with programs and activities that empower young people who stutter. The camp also helps campers build confidence, communication skills, and friendships to last a lifetime.
Springer will host his fifth annual All-Star Bowling Benefit on Thursday, June 27. The benefit is a fundraiser to send kids to Camp SAY.
Because of his personal story, it’s easy to see why Springer would be an advocate for Camp SAY. As a youngster growing up near Hartford, Conn., Springer said that stuttering caused him to withdraw from social interaction.
“It’s extremely isolating, debilitating,” Springer recalled. “It’s the worst feeling you could have, to know that whatever it is you have to say, you can’t say it. I didn’t speak in class. I didn’t want to participate.”
“I would talk and they would respond with the ‘duh, duh, duh,’ as if I was stupid. I didn’t understand why they didn’t speak like me or why I didn’t speak like them,” he said.
His father, George Springer Jr., echoed his thoughts.
“You began to see as the stuttering became more pronounced, he began to withdraw, afraid to speak out and speak up,” he said.
The Springers sought professional help to manage George III’s stuttering. His growing success in baseball, as a four-year starter in high school and an All-American at UConn, gave him the personal confidence to confront his stuttering head on.
“The game allowed me to be who I am,” Springer said. “It allowed people to see who I am. It allowed folks to see my personality because I wasn’t afraid to talk because I knew I wasn’t going to stutter.”
“[George III’s] work with the stuttering association isn’t just improving lives, isn’t just helping lives; in many cases it’s saving lives,” his father said.
For more information about Camp SAY contact Houston@SAY.orgor 202-919-4848.
George Springer All-Star Bowling Benefit
Thursday, June 27, 7 p.m.
Bowlmor Houston, 925 Bunker Hill