On September 5th of 1994, eager to pose a question, 8th-grade student Branden Brooks found himself raising his hand during the Q&A session of a presentation by then-Senator Joe Biden. After the event, having noticed the young man’s stutter as he spoke, Biden pulled him to one side:
Sen. Biden told me that he used to stutter as a kid but never let it interfere with his life goals. In fact, Sen. Biden added that he would purposely seek public speaking opportunities (such as acting in plays) to force himself to speak in public.
A week later, Branden received the following letter. Immediately acting on Biden’s advice, he successfully ran for class president and held the position throughout high-school and college. Since graduating, he has worked in Delaware as a prosecutor.
JOSEPH R. BIDEN
Dear Branden —
It was a pleasure meeting you yesterday. You are a fine — bright — young man with a great future ahead of you if you continue to work hard.
Remember what I told you about stuttering. You can beat it just like I did. When you do, you will be a stronger man having won. Also remember, every time you are tempted to make fun of someone with a problem, how it feels when you are made fun of. Treat everyone with respect and you will be respected yourself.