Aphasia Awareness June 22; 100 Years of USA Field Hockey Event – Humanitarian Award and Courage

“Aphasia is lonely. Frustrating. Heart-breaking. It is often misunderstood,”


My ability can affect language skills. Every day I try to discuss it with people. 


Last week I went to the 100 Years of USA Field Hockey event at the Union League in Philadelphia on Saturday, June 18. Many people attended that night.


My day was a huge inspiration. It reminded me that courage is important. The speech came from the award for the 2021 USA Field Hockey’s Annual Award for Humanitarian Award Winner, Jeanne O’Brien. During her speech, Jeanne invited a young woman, Caitlyn (sp), to join her at the podium.


Five years ago, Jeanne played as the umpire manager for the north regional qualifier field hockey and told us about this young girl. The mother was upset and frustrated and asked to speak with Jeanne. Her 14-year-old daughter had removed her hearing aids because it was raining and the umpire told Caitlyn that she needed to pay attention because the whistle did not stop the play.


Jeanne apologized to the mom and most likely that the umpires were unaware of her situation. Jeanne asked her mom if she could speak with her.


Jeanne talked about how difficult to hear the whistle in a game. She told Caitlyn that it would happen again if she didn’t learn to advocate for herself by speaking to the umpires before the game. 


Five years later, Jeanne was working with the umpire coordinator at Disney. One of the umpire tables came to me and said, “Jeanne, do you remember me?”. Jeanne was surprised and told her she looked familiar, but I couldn’t remember her. Five years ago, the young woman told me to advocate for herself.


The young daughter has worked hard for the last five years to learn their skills, and she is going to college to play field hockey next year.


For two years, I have had aphasia after my stroke. We learned about how important it is to be an advocate for ourselves and our friends when they need them. This story reminds me of how everyone can help others. The young woman told me how important to show my courage. 


Whenever I spoke with someone, I told them I had aphasia. Sometimes I say the wrong letters, or sometimes I can’t think of what to say. Not that I am not rude. If I don’t understand what you said, I ask again if you can slow down again. If they are complicated sentences, I have a problem understanding them. I ask them again to please break it down to make it simple. I don’t have a whistle to have an umpire.


I felt they were talking to me that night. Thank you.

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