November 18, 2021
(Rockville, MD) Captain Sully Sullenberger will receive the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association’s (ASHA) most prestigious public honor, the Annie Glenn Award, on November 19, 2021, at the ASHA Convention in Washington, D.C.
Captain Sullenberger is best known for the 2009 “Miracle on the Hudson”—his safe landing of a US Airways passenger flight on the Hudson River after both engines failed.
Last year, during the U.S. presidential campaign that saw numerous high-profile instances of politicians, media commentators, and other public figures mocking now-President Joe Biden’s stutter, Captain Sullenberger penned a widely hailed op-ed in The New York Times: “Like Joe Biden, I Once Stuttered, Too. I Dare You to Mock Me.”
In it, he wrote: “The fact that I once stuttered did not keep me from being a successful U.S. Air Force fighter pilot, an airline pilot, or even a public speaker.
“And on that frigid day in January 2009, when I had to tell the air traffic controller at New York Departure Control that I was about to land US Airways Flight 1549 in the Hudson River, after a bird strike following takeoff caused both engines to fail, my words came out with precision and control, even in the stress of a life-threatening emergency.”
ASHA President A. Lynn Williams, PhD, CCC-SLP, remarked, “Captain Sullenberger’s powerful words resonated not only with the millions of Americans, and people worldwide, who stutter—but with the public at large. We are honored to present him with ASHA’s most esteemed public honor [the Annie Glenn Award] for using his platform to denounce the unacceptable mocking and bullying of people who stutter—and for showing those who stutter that the sky’s the limit when it comes to what they can achieve in their lives.”
In his op-ed, Captain Sullenberger concluded with these remarks: “So, to every child who feels today, what I felt, after hearing those cruel remarks by an adult who should know better, here is what I want you to know:
“You are fine, just as you are. You can do any job you dream of when you grow up. You can be a pilot who lands your plane on a river and helps save lives, or a president who treats people with respect, rather than making fun of them. You can become a teacher to kids who stutter. A speech disorder is a lot easier to treat than a character defect. You become a true leader, not because of how you speak, but because of what you have to say—and the challenges you have overcome to help others. Ignore kids (and adults) who are mean, or don’t know what it feels like to stutter. Respond by showing them how to be kind, polite, respectful and generous, to be brave enough to try big things, even though you are not perfect.”
Named for lifelong advocate Annie Glenn, ASHA’s Annie Award honors those who have made a positive impact on the lives of people with communication disorders. Mrs. Glenn, who experienced a severe stutter well into her adult years, worked tirelessly for roughly 40 years as a champion for people with speech, language, and hearing disorders before her passing in 2020 at 100 years of age.
Past recipients of the Annie Glenn Award include actors James Earl Jones and Julie Andrews; former U.S. Congresswoman Gabby Giffords and U.S. Senator and retired astronaut Mark Kelly; and President Joe Biden.
About the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA)
ASHA is the national professional, scientific, and credentialing association for 218,000 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.