What does a 13-year-old kid have in common with Kareem Abdul-Jabar and Lin-Manuel Miranda? In the case of 13-year-old Brayden Harrington, they were all speakers in Joe Biden’s star-studded inauguration special. And it was all because of something Harrington has in common with Biden: a stutter. It all started on a campaign visit in the teen’s home state of New Hampshire, with Biden telling Harrington to not let the stutter define him and offering to follow up with him with some tips (via New York Times).
It wasn’t just a short meeting for a PR stunt. Biden did follow up and gave Harrington advice.
“He told me to make these slash marks, that means, ‘Take a breath,'” Harrington told NBC Boston, “and if there’s a big word, just take a breath, highlight it.” The advice paid off, and Harrington wasn’t just a speaker at the inaugural special, but also at the 2020 Democratic National Convention.
Even though he nailed the DNC speech, Harrington understandably still had some nerves about the inauguration speech in a statement, saying, “When I learned I had the opportunity to speak at the Democratic National Convention, I was so nervous! What got me through and helped motivate me was knowing I could be a voice for other children who stutter as well as anyone else who has faced challenges. I only hope my story provides a little extra support and motivation for those that need it” (via New York Times).
Brayden Harrington is going on to write a children's book
The speech Harrington gave was one from fifty years ago, but the sentiment still rings true. Wearing a suit jacket and bow tie, Harrington read smoothly from President John F. Kennedy’s 1961 inaugural address that ended with the memorable line, “And so my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.”
Harrington is going to keep on motivating people. Using his newfound platform, Harrington is working on a children’s book called Brayden Speaks Up that is in the works to be published August 10, 2021 (via New York Times).
Harrington seems pretty happy for Biden’s election win, saying “He’s come a long way and I’m pretty happy for him. When I first met him, it was in February and he came this far. He basically has the whole country in his hands, and I know he’ll be good at that” (via CNN).
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