Reflections of my first "big" speech
Updated: Apr 12
About 10 years ago, I had my first “big” speech. Although it wasn’t my very first speech, it was certainly the most meaningful at that point in my career and the most attended.
I’ll never forget: it was at The Broadmoor. My Tourette’s and stuttering were pretty bad during that speech. I was pretty nervous yet eager to share my message.
In the audience, was Tiffany Ott, a parent from the school I worked at in Fountain, CO. Here are some of Ms. Ott’s thoughts on my speech:
“Mark is such an inspiration to listen to. He seems to know how to cater his speeches to his audience whether it be children, teachers, parents, etc. He uplifts his audience and opens their eyes and shows them a new perspective to a life with disabilities. I've seen those that have children with newly diagnosed disabilities and those that have had disabilities their whole life come up to him and praise him on how relatable his speech was to them. He truly gives hope to parents and those who feel defeated because of an adversity. He shows them it IS possible to be successful in this world as long as you work for it and keep trying even when you fall down or stumble.”
As I was speaking to Ms. Ott after my speech, a lady staggered up to me. She was in tears. She said to me that she had come all the way from Grand Junction, CO to Colorado Springs, to watch me speak because her school-aged son had just been diagnosed with Tourette’s syndrome.
Ms. Ott watched as me and this lady conversed about Tourette’s and how her son can overcome it and be successful in life.
After the lady had departed, Ms. Ott said to me, “That woman needed to hear you. God intended for her to hear you today to show her that her son will be okay, and that he can be successful in life. If nothing else, connecting with her made this whole speech worthwhile”
Though I am not a parent, I’ve always tried to be empathetic to parents of kids with disabilities, and I imagine when a parent first hears a diagnosis, so many tornado-ing thoughts go through their mind…will my kid be okay, will they need assistance their whole live, will they make it through school. All the things I did naturally, not easily, but naturally because of the supports I had in my life growing up and my persevering attitude and determination.
Thank you, Ms. Ott, for helping me realize the power my words have, not only on that lady on this day, but the power my words have with any parent with a child with a disability.
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