Author Paul Berger Honored at 1999 Communication Awards at
Kennedy Center Ceremony
Paul Berger received the "Communication Award for Individual Achievement," at the 18th Annual Award Ceremony produced by the National Council on Communicative Disorders, September 7, 1999.
The Awards were sponsored by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association and the National Association for Hearing and Speech Action. The ceremony was held at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, and co-hosted by local NBC 4 morning news anchor, Joe Krebs, and Amy Ecklund, star of the daytime TV drama, The Guiding Light.
Special presentations were made by Senator John Glenn and his wife. Jenny Craig, of weight loss fame, also received an award recognizing her struggle following an accident which left her unable to speak. A copy of the evening's program and Paul's award are pictured below.
Paul, an avid supporter of the space program was thrilled to sit by Sen. Glenn during the program and get his autograph.
Paul, who wore a tuxedo for the occasion, practiced for more than two months almost every day to deliver his three minute acceptance speech. His Toastmasters club helped him with a practice run a month before the event. Giving a speech in front of 500 people could make anyone nervous-- imagine what it's like when you have a severe speech problem like aphasia. But Paul proved that with a good attitude and hard work, it can be done. Paul did such a good job, that the local Channel 4 news used a clip from his acceptance speech as part of their coverage of the Award Ceremony on the late news that evening, and the following morning.
Here's Paul's acceptance speech:
"Thank you. This is great. This award is special to me.
14 years ago, I had a stroke and lost all my speech.
I was smart, but my speech was bad, and I lost my job.
But I did not retire. I did not go away.
I worked hard to follow my interests.
I worked hard to find a new job.
Life is hard for me because people can not understand my speech problem.
It is discrimination.
Ramps are built for wheelchairs, but access for people with
speech problems is built by making others understand.
It is in the head and the heart.
It is a battle for everyone.
I am proof that we can win the battle.
But we can not stop fighting.
I wrote a book to help fight the battle.
My book is How to Conquer the World With One Hand...And an Attitude.
Thank you all."