Convention Reflections

Just want to let you know how much being able to attend the convention meant to our family. Emery, my 11 year old, has a stutter. Just moving to Kissimmee, I searched for organizations/groups in the area that give Emery a sense of belonging to and support. Upon finding information about the Friends convention, I applied for a grant so that we could enter since it was going to be nearby. When I received the reply that we not only received the grant to enter the convention, but to also stay at Embassy Suites, I thought that it was a mistake. I assumed that the error would be corrected because during this time I didn’t expect something so wonderful happening to us. I heard from Ed again with the same information and it became real. I told my children and they were very excited. We assumed that we would only support Emery at the convention.

From the moment of arrival at the Friends convention, it became very clear that Emery was not alone and his feeling of being comfortable was through the roof. The focus was Emery. He knew it, we knew it and it felt so awesome. Although we thought that we were there just as support, we were really there to learn how to support Emery in his journey. Emery learned that he can stand up to be who he is without judgment and he really can accomplish anything. I just don’t think that it would’ve been the same if we hadn’t stayed at the hotel to be able to absorb all that gained during the Friends convention.

I wanted all of my children to attend the Friends convention so that they will understand. The realization of what Emery has to deal with was very emotional for my oldest son, Justin, because as much as he loves and cares for Emery, there were times that he didn’t listen to Emery by allowing him time to speak. Justin apologized to Emery and Emery cried as well. Justin and Emery are very close and Emery considers his brothers his best friends. We learned so much.

With everything that our family is going through right now, including unsaid suffering, therapy, Justin’s tumor and Eryk’s birthday with no means, Friends stepping in and taking our family under the wing was beyond any words that I could express. We needed this opportunity more than we knew. I am forever and ever grateful to the board, Ed, Lee, Dr. Popovich and the entire Friends family for showing Emery that there’s no way that he’s alone and for helping the rest of us to see so much clearer.

From all of us… THANK YOU!!!


Damie Rivers

Good afternoon,

Thank you very much granting our family a FRIENDS scholarship.  It was very critical in allowing us to attend the conference this year.

We felt like we ‘belonged’ as soon as we arrived at the hotel.  We benefitted so much from hearing of other families’ journeys, their challenges and their victories.  In the parents’ sessions, we experienced a sense of belonging.  We visited with other parents of stutterers, young adults and adults who stutter who all have amazing stories.  We witnessed young people stand up and speak in front of a crowd with such courage.  Our son, who stutters, feels included at the conferences where he often feels excluded and left out in similar gatherings outside the stuttering community.  The conference was very well managed and the schedule was a good blend of information, sharing, and fun.  Thank you again for helping us attend the conference……  we hope to see you next year!

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