Right Stuff Award: Annie Glenn

by Madeleine Kolb

“The Right Stuff” is a term popularized by author Tom Wolf in his rollicking, uproarious, roller-coaster-ride of a book by the same name:  a book about America’s seven original astronauts.

They were men who had what it took to climb into a massive rocket loaded with explosive fuel and blast off into space. They had the Right Stuff.

In that spirit I will present awards from time to time to people with the Right Stuff. People who take on a challenge and triumph over obstacles. Or who suddenly, unexpectedly find themselves in a challenging situation and rise to the occasion quietly and competently. Those who demonstrate what a single person can accomplish if she or he has the Right Stuff.

And the second Right Stuff Award goes to Annie Glenn

Annie has been married to John Glenn, one of the seven original astronauts since 1943. If you read The Right Stuff or saw the excellent movie of the same name, you probably remember the scene where Annie Glenn refused to speak on camera to then-Vice-President Lyndon Johnson.

Annie stuttered badly, and it made it very difficult, even impossible, to do simple, every-day things like:

  • Taking a taxicab and telling the driver where she wanted to go
  • Going to the store and asking a clerk where to find a particular item, and
  • Making a telephone call, even calling 911 in an emergency

Annie tried various therapies over the years, but they didn’t help. Finally, Annie and John heard about a new therapy for stuttering while watching the Today show. John encouraged Annie to try it.

It changed her life! She became able to engage in conversations and speak on the phone. She also began working with the American Speech and Hearing Association to inspire other people to get help for their disabilities. The Association now gives an annual award, the “Annie,” in her name.

In this video, John and Annie Glenn talk about how her life changed as a result of the therapy. (Warning: it may bring tears to your eyes.)

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