MEMPHIS, Tenn. (April 15, 2009) — Darren Sproles, the San Diego Charger who made history last season by returning a kickoff and a punt for his first two NFL touchdowns in the same game, has overcome many challenges, but the toughest perhaps is stuttering.
This year he joins the Stuttering Foundation as its Spokesperson in recognizing National Stuttering Awareness Week, May 11-17.
"I remember a long time ago my grandpa told me ‘don’t ever let anybody tell you that you can’t do anything because you stutter.’" Sproles said. "I always remembered that and worked hard at improving my speech."
During Stuttering Awareness Week, the NFL star and the Stuttering Foundation will work together to educate Americans about this poorly understood speech disorder that affects more than three million people in the United States.
As part of its educational outreach, the Foundation offers a toll-free hotline, 800-992-9392, and maintains two Web sites,www.stutteringhelp.org and www.tartamudez.org.
The running back, who became aware of his struggle with stuttering at age 4, says the problem became more pronounced when he was a star football player at Olathe North High School and at Kansas State University.
"I had to talk to the media a lot, and once they put a camera in my face, that’s when it got bad," Sproles said. "I just had to work on it. I couldn’t really stress about it, because that’s just me."
Sproles said he learned to take his time while answering questions during an interview. "I don’t have to be in a hurry to say something."
"We are extremely happy to have as our spokesman someone who is a role model to young people who struggle with stuttering because he himself never gave up," says Jane Fraser, president of the Stuttering Foundation.
For a free copy of the 18 Famous People brochure/mini-poster featuring Darren Sproles, call 800-992-9392 or visitwww.stutteringhelp.org.
Note to reporters and editors: Photos of Darren Sproles can be downloaded by clicking here: Photo 1 Photo 2.