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Biden encourages young Massachusetts girl who has a stutter: "It doesn't define you"

A 9-year-old girl named Avery in Massachusetts got some words of encouragement from President Joe Biden over the weekend when she met him and said that, like him, she has a stutter. The girl's mother, Jessica Gifford Nigrelli, posted about the exchange on Facebook. 

"President Biden is an incredible man," Nigrelli said. "Not because of the office he holds but because of his humanity and compassion."

Mr. Biden was in Nantucket for Thanksgiving, a family tradition that began when he was a senator, and he first married his wife, first lady Jill Biden. 

Nigrelli wrote that her daughter told Mr. Biden, "Mr. President, I have a stutter just like you." 

Then, Nigrelli said, "he stopped everything, put his hands on her shoulders, looked her right in the eyes and said 'Remember this: it doesn't define you. I have had a stutter my whole life and I'm now the President of the United States. You can be anything you want to be.'" 

Well holy cow. This was a thrill. President Biden is an incredible man. Not because of the office he holds but because...

Posted by Jessica Gifford Nigrelli on Sunday, November 28, 2021

During their encounter, Mr. Biden gave Avery tricks he uses "when the words get stuck," Nigrelli wrote on Facebook, and asked Nigrelli if he could send Avery one of his speeches that he has marked up with his notes. He also gave Nigrelli's younger daughter, Carina, a hug and talked to her about her teddy bear after she "ran straight into his arms," Nigrelli said. 

In a video of part of the exchange that Nigrelli posted, Mr. Biden can be heard telling Avery that the stutter will "go away if you just keep at it," before the young girl gave him a hug. He can also be heard inviting her and her family to visit him at the White House and "see the Oval Office." 

Nigrelli told CBS News that the day after the encounter, Mr. Biden reached out to her brother, Rufus Gifford, who had tweeted a video of the exchange. He invited their family to the White House and asked to spend an hour with Avery to have lunch and talk. Nigrelli said her daughter "will remember this moment forever." 

"I don't think she will ever feel hindered by her stutter in the same way again," she said. "Mr. President, as a mother, I want to say thank you, from the bottom of my heart. You live by your words 'we lead not by the example of our power, by the power of our example.'" 

Avery's interaction with the president is already having a positive impact on her life.

"She said when she was at school yesterday she stuttered but she remembered the president telling her 'just stick with the stutter and it will let you be' and so she pushed through and got the words out," her mother told CBS News on Thursday. "Then her 'brain smiled at her.' ... She is feeling so empowered!" 

The president's speech impediment has also inspired other young children. 

In August 2020, 13-year-old Brayden Harrington made an emotional speech at the Democratic National Convention about how Mr. Biden had helped him with his stutter while he was the vice president. After Mr. Biden won the election, Harrington told "CBS Mornings" correspondent Mireya Villarreal that he sees him as a "role model." 

"He stutters, and he made it, like, this far in life, as a president-elect, and that's really, I would say, brave of him to put himself out there, for the whole country, and to be a leader. And that's just really great of him, to just push himself," he said. 

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