"Before, my No. 1 fear was my stutter, and that was close to the scariest thing in my life, and now... I've seen that as a gift," said the teen.
"Hi, my name is Brayden Harrington, and I'm 13 years old. And without Joe Biden I wouldn't be talking to you today," a young man wearing braces and a wide smile told the millions watching the 2020 Democratic National Convention in August. The self-described "regular kid" from New Hampshire who—like the President-elect—has a stutter, gave a moving testimony of how Biden helped him overcome his fear of public speaking. Although the teen's two-minute-long speech began somewhat haltingly, it went on to become one of the most memorable parts of the event and left the nation in awe of Brayden's remarkable display of vulnerability and courage.
This victory is for kids like Brayden Harrington and Corey Hixon, who were embraced by @JoeBiden both literally and metaphorically because of their struggles. It will be nice to have a President with empathy and compassion again. pic.twitter.com/oix0HXXCMe— Mike Corbett #BlackLivesMatter (@themikecorbett) November 7, 2020
Now, like millions across the nation this weekend, Brayden is celebrating Biden's historic win as the 46th President of the United States. "I was really happy for him," the teen told Good Morning America. "I have a really strong feeling he's going to be a great president at this time." Brayden first met the president-elect on the campaign trail in his home state of New Hampshire in February where the teen's dad, Owen Harrington, told then-candidate Biden about his son's stutter. "About a few months ago, I met [Biden] in New Hampshire. He told me that we were members of the same club," Brayden recounted the memorable meeting in his DNC speech.
“I’m just a regular kid, and in a short amount of time, Joe Biden made me more confident about something that’s bothered me my whole life. Joe Biden cared.”— 2020 #DemConvention 🇺🇸 (@DemConvention) August 21, 2020
– Brayden Harrington#DemConvention pic.twitter.com/KoPprXXwCQ
"We..." he continued, struggling to get the word out, "stutter. It was really amazing to hear that someone like me became vice president." This meeting had a profound impact on Brayden, as the 77-year-old stayed in touch with the Harrington family and shared tips to help the young boy work around his condition. Biden, who had a debilitating stutter as a child, has, over the years, befriended a number of young people who stutter and helped raise their confidence with the tips and tricks that personally worked for him.
Biden campaign had Brayden Harrington, the boy who bonded with Joe over stuttering, record a closing campaign ad and now I am crying.— ًً (@someknew) November 1, 2020
Vote for a man with character.pic.twitter.com/pe9x2JxWR7
The father-of-four opened up about his speech disability in a 2015 letter he wrote to the Stuttering Foundation of America. "I personally understand the terrible fear and frustration of a stutter. My stutter embarrassed me and made me question myself and my abilities daily," he wrote. "... If I could share one piece of advice with all of those struggling with a stutter, it would be this: When you commit yourself to a goal and when you persevere in a face of struggle, you will discover new strengths and skills to help you overcome not only this challenge but future life challenges as well. I promise you — you have nothing to be ashamed of and you have every reason to be proud."
In his viral DNC speech, Brayden shared some of the tips Biden had given him about public speaking, including reading poems by William Butler Yeats aloud and marking up speeches to make them easier to deliver. The teen credits the president-elect for changing his perspective about his stutter and is grateful to him for helping him grow. "Before, my No. 1 fear was my stutter, and that was close to the scariest thing in my life, and now... I've seen that as a gift," said Brayden. "I have seen that as a way to improve myself mentally and physically, and I feel like I've really grown from meeting him."
"For the president-elect to have taken the time to do that for us means the world," said Brayden's dad. "He opened up massive opportunities for Brayden to build his confidence and then see that his stutter doesn't matter. It's been a gift. I can't call it anything other than."