(Rockville, MD) A mission to the International Space Station that is scheduled for liftoff today will carry some uniquely meaningful cargo—a miniature replica of “The Annie,” the premier public award of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association
(ASHA) named after Annie Glenn, spouse of the late John Glenn, one of America’s most famous astronauts.
With good reason, John Glenn used to say that Annie was his hero. During the couple’s marriage of more than 70 years, he saw firsthand how his wife struggled with stuttering. But he also witnessed how, after receiving help and gaining fluency, Annie Glenn chose to spend much of her life sharing and
speaking publicly about her story, inspiring millions in the process. Since 1987, ASHA has annually awarded The Annie to those who publicly champion communication-related matters in the same spirit as Annie Glenn.
This week, the inspiration surrounding the award will spread across the heavens after a Soyuz rocket blasts off from Kazakhstan. Aboard will be NASA astronaut Andrew Feustel, who will start off in the role of engineer but will eventually take over as commander of Expedition 56 during the months-long mission. Though
Feustel will have many responsibilities such as scientific experiments and the safety of his crew, he made sure that The Annie replica will be aboard—along with shirts and insignias celebrating the work, training, and skills of audiologists and speech-language pathologists.
“ASHA is proud and pleased to be part of what we respectfully call the ‘Flight of The Annie’,” ASHA President Elise Davis-McFarland, PhD, CCC-SLP, said. “We are grateful to Commander Feustel for highlighting not only Annie Glenn’s great example, but also the importance of the ability to communicate and our
professionals’ role treating it. Our best wishes to all involved for a safe and successful mission.”
Feustel’s motivation is deeply rooted. To hear him tell it, without the ability to communicate, astronauts would be grounded. “Communication is key to everything we do,” he emphasized in an ASHA Leader interview. His marriage to a speech-language pathologist brought him to the
world of communication professionals—their work and those they treat. His spouse, Indira Bhatnagar Feustel, belonged to the care team that helped former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords regain her ability to communicate after being seriously wounded by a gunman. That led to a special memory for the astronaut:
being with his wife, Giffords and her husband and fellow astronaut Mark Kelly, as well as Annie and John Glenn when The Annie was presented to Giffords and Kelly at an ASHA Convention.
“I am happy to celebrate the work you (ASHA members) do,” Feustel told The ASHA Leader as he prepped for launch.
About the American
Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA)
ASHA is the national professional, scientific, and credentialing association for 198,000 members and affiliates who are audiologists; speech-language pathologists; speech, language, and hearing scientists; audiology and speech-language pathology support personnel; and students. Audiologists
specialize in preventing and assessing hearing and balance disorders as well as providing audiologic treatment, including hearing aids. Speech-language pathologists identify, assess, and treat speech and language problems, including swallowing disorders.