When the video above was posted on Youtube on August 20, 2009, then Bills cornerback Ellis Lanskster found himself all over the web. 387,037 views later and the video is still on the internet. Unfortunately, the rude, cold-hearted people in this world thought it was funny.
But I can tell you it is no laughing matter whatsoever.
Lankster suffers from stuttering and has had to deal with it since he was a kid. “God made me a star football player who stutters for a reason, so I can help other people who stutter,” Lankster said.
Earlier this week, Lanskter was presented with the “Converting Awareness into Action” Award at the Stuttering Foundation Gala in honor of National Stuttering Awareness Week. The award was given to Lanskter for everything he has done to inspire those who stutter.
“Ellis shows his true toughness by sharing his struggles with fluency as a child. He refused to let his stutter keep him from his dream of playing professional football, and he is committed to helping and inspiring children attain their dreams by overcoming the obstacles they face,” said Jane Fraser, president of the Stuttering Foundation.
So what is stuttering? According to the Foundation’s website, stuttering is a communication disorder that causes things such as abnormal stoppages in speech or words broken by repetition. More than 68 million people worldwide stutter.
There are over 3 million Americans who stutter, including Jets left guard Matt Slauson.
To learn more about Slauson’s stuttering problem, watch this video below:
Slauson has worked with Camp Our Time, a sleep-away camp for kids who stutter. “As a person who has battled stuttering my entire life I feel it is important to help kids that are afflicted with this difficult problem. Whether overcoming this impediment completely or simply becoming more confident when speaking, I want kids who stutter to know they can be successful and accomplish anything they want to,” Slauson said.
“I think what Matt learned at a pretty young age is that he speaks with his heart. His mouth just has to catch up with it,” Slauson’s dad, Rob, told the Lincoln Journal Star. “He always had the gift to share the joy he had about things. And if his mouth doesn’t catch up, it’s OK with him.”
Lankster and Slauson should both be commended for their efforts, rather than ridiculed for the way they speak. With their charm and natural eloquence, both inspire millions on and off the field. Rather than asking “why me?” these two men continue to help others overcome stuttering while dealing with it themselves. They are true heroes in every sense of the word.