What does one say when giving a speech at an apraxia walk?

By Laura Smith|September 25, 2016|Apraxia, apraxia blog, apraxia walk, walk for apraxia|

Being a walk coordinator, you have one job that is a must.  You must give the speech and hand out the medals.  I mean, I guess you don’t have to, but typically this responsibility falls on you.  I like to write, and I also took speech and debate all through school, so these two things don’t make me nervous.  Someone asked me if I cry when giving the speech, and I confidently told her no.  This year though, I did get emotional toward the end.

Someone asked me if I get nervous, and I do…but not because speaking to a crowd or writing a speech makes me nervous.  No.  What  makes me nervous is the pressure I feel for it to be good.  I want it to be powerful.  I want it to be meaningful.  Worrying that it won’t be is what makes me nervous.

I hope it was meaningful to the walkers.

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Hi Denver walkers!

I am so honored to be standing in front of over 400 people who love and know someone with Childhood Apraxia of Speech.  Every year this walk has grown in size, and this year is no exception.  We are here honoring 43 children with Childhood Apraxia of Speech.

43 Children who work hard every day to the one thing many take for granted….


Denver continues to be a VERY strong Apraxia Community.  Out of 90 Walks taking place nationwide, Denver currently ranks 5th in terms of number of participants.  I remember when my daughter Ashlynn was dx, the ONE thing I wanted more than anything, was to find others like me and her, and then to find others who had OVERCOME it.

Honestly, that is my hope for this walk as it continues to grow over time.  A lot of kids get better and then stop coming, but I truly hope when your child is doing better, they continue to come and stand up here with a microphone speaking words of hope to the generation after.  I have seen walks now where young people have come back to give speeches and sing songs.  That is my continued hope for this walk, and I guarantee you, my daughter Ashlynn and I will be part of this community for years to come.

I was talking to a 4th grade student with apraxia last week, and he was asking me how rare apraxia was.  I told him every 1 and 1000 child will have it.  To put that in perspective, that would be 1 child in every two elementary schools in our district.  He remarked matter of factly,

“and that child is me.”

Yes I said.  That one child was him. 🙁

He told me he couldn’t wait for the walk so he could meet other children like him.  Sweetie, I hope here you have found them and feel in good company.

To all you others, I hope YOUR child is in good company.  I hope YOU are in good company.  When I attended the CASANA conference this past July in Chicago, Sharon Gretz, the executive director told us:

“If you are feeling nervous, or if you are unsure, take a deep breath, for you are with your people.”

I wish to tell you all of that now.  Children with apraxia, you are with your people.

Parents of children with apraxia, you are with your people.

I may be biased, but I can honestly tell you Children with Apraxia of Speech are among my favorite people on this planet.  Though all individual and unique, I don’t have to meet your child to know:

They are a fighter

They are resilient

They have a heightened emotional intelligence

They inspire you

They inspire me

Most of you know, this walk benefits CASANA (The Childhood Apraxia of Speech Association of North America). It sounds like a HUGE non-profit, but actually it is staffed as small as it can be and relies on volunteers around the country…like me and all the people who helped me this year,  to run the walks.  They do this to maximize the money they can return to the community, our community..to my child..to your child.  I do all of this as a volunteer because I believe in CASANA and I have personally seen time and time again as a mother and as an SLP how our efforts today directly benefit the children I see before me.

I truly feel honored to look out at you now and see many faces of apraxia whom I know.  Because of CASANA, many of these faces have been fortunate to receive iPads, speech therapy through Small Steps, and quality therapy thanks to CASANA.  I’m so happy our community is large and strong, but I do wish our fund raising efforts would match it.  For a walk of our size, it is very common to raise 30K dollars, but it takes all of us going out of our comfort zone and asking people to donate. I just checked and we are at 20K.  My goal was 30K, and if we reach it, not only do we help so many children in our direct community, but we will also get a FREE parent seminar from Sharon Gretz, the executive director of CASANA. I just want to tell you all we have until Thanksgiving to keep raising money for our walk!  It doesn’t end here!

That said,

Before the ceremony gets underway, I just want to say in closing,

If you are new to this journey, take heart.  There is hope.

If you are not new to this journey, I hope you reach out to someone who is.

If you are a professional supporting a family, you should know your presence here means more than could ever be conveyed in words.

If you are a family member or friend supporting a child, you should know your support and understanding is so needed and also so appreciated, as many, many, many people don’t understand how painful this can be.

Finally and most importantly, if you are a child with apraxia, stand up tall!!  This is your day!!

We see you

We love you

We recognize all the hard work you put in every day, and we want to honor you!!!!

So let’s get started!










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