Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank is awarding the University of Texas with a $20 million legacy grant to establish the Arthur M. Blank Center for Stuttering Education and Research.
Blank said he was moved by the work of Dr. Courtney Byrd, a professor at UT and clinical expert in stuttering. Byrd founded and will lead the Blank Center, which is aimed toward making effective treatment accessible to all people.
"The moment I met Dr. Byrd, I was immediately struck by her intellect and her life-long commitment to advancing the field of stuttering, which she translated into extraordinary proposals that captured her vision to meaningfully impact the stuttering community in the United States and beyond," Blank said, per the team's website. "Through her impressive research and dedicated practice towards stuttering, I know she will change the world in this area and help as many human beings as she possibly can. She is the perfect person to lead the charge because she's hard-wired now in her beliefs, and you see it in her results, the participants, the clinical work that she's doing, the research, the education, all of which we will be connected to through the establishment of this center."
Stuttering is something that Blank himself has struggled with and challenged his family for several generations, per the Falcons. He's hoping this initiative ultimately helps people unlock their inner being.
"Defining communication by how fluent you are doesn't get at the freedom -- the freeing of the inner person, the inner soul, the inner spirit, the inner mind, the intellect of what each person has to say and feel," Blank said.
The Blank Center plans to annually increase the number of persons served and students and clinicians trained, with the 10-year grant also funding national satellite centers and Byrd's treatment program, "Camp Dream. Speak. Live.," in 10 new countries.