September 19, 2020
Teen DNC star Brayden Harrington moves and inspires others who stutter

Teen DNC star Brayden Harrington moves and inspires others who stutter


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Brayden Harrington shows how he marked up his speech to make it easier to deliver.


Video screenshot by Amanda Kooser/CNET

This story is part of Elections 2020, CNET’s coverage of the run-up to voting in November.

Viewers of the virtual Democratic National Convention discovered an unexpected source of inspiration Thursday night when 13-year-old Brayden Harrington delivered an unforgettable speech. 

If you missed it, it’s a must-watch:

The New Hampshire teen shared that he and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden both work through the challenge of stuttering. 

Harrington met Biden earlier this year and picked up some tips from the former vice president. Biden suggested reading poetry out loud and showed Harrington how to mark up speeches to make them easier to deliver.

Harrington’s remarks stood out even after a week full of keynotes by such accomplished orators as Michelle and Barack Obama. “I’m just a regular kid, and in a short amount of time, Joe Biden made me more confident about something that’s bothered me my whole life,” he said.

Inspired viewers took to Twitter to support Harrington and his bravery. Author Rod Dreher — who made clear he’s not a Biden supporter — tweeted, “One of my kids is a stutterer. No matter how much courage you think Brayden Harrington’s talk just now took, believe me, it’s way more.”

Some shared their own personal stories of stuttering. “I’m a stutterer, I was controlling my breathing just like I do to control my own, it was so hard to watch for me. But god it was so beautiful,” wrote Twitter user Aloha.

“Just in case you see this Brayden. I’m a stutterer. I was lucky and a therapist taught me some breathing techniques that really helped me. I’m very proud of you for speaking to the nation. Very proud!” wrote Twitter user WiscoMopp.

If you don’t know much about stuttering, freelance journalist Barry Yeoman has you covered with an extensive Twitter thread dedicated to enlightening articles, poetry, books and documentaries. 

“In the coming months, you’re likely to hear a lot about people who stutter,” Yeoman wrote. “I’d like you to hear from us directly.” 

Biden’s empathy for Harrington wasn’t a one-off. The website Letters of Note, which acts as an online museum of correspondence, has a Biden letter from 1994 in its archives. In it, Biden wrote to an 8th grader with a stutter: “You can beat it just like I did.”

In a busy and contentious political season, Harrington’s words are reverberating. His message of hope and of overcoming obstacles transcends the moment. His example stands above it all. 

“We need the world to feel better,” he said. Harrington is doing his part.





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