President Biden to Weston girl: ‘Don’t let the stutter define who you are’

NANTUCKET, Mass. — A Weston girl returned to school after the Thanksgiving holiday with an unforgettable story to share.

Avery Nigrelli has a lot of personality and a lot of guts. So, when she learned President Joe Biden would also be celebrating Thanksgiving weekend on Nantucket, she was determined to meet him. She told Boston 25 News anchor Kerry Kavanaugh she just had to tell him the struggle they share.

“I told myself, I really got to do this,” Avery Nigrelli said. “I can’t believe I have something in common with the president. And it would be awesome if I stutter talking to him.”

The president has been open about his work to overcome his own stutter. The 9-year-old has struggled with hers since a very young age.

“It affects whether she should or shouldn’t raise her hand in a class,” said mom, Jessica Nigrelli. “It’s hard for her to order something in a restaurant, to get started, to get the words out.”

Avery was born with a heart defect, a hole in her heart. Open heart surgery repaired it when she was 16 months old. But Jessica thinks anxiety from the ordeal stays with her and has impacted her speech. Jessica said speech therapy has done wonders for her. But nothing could compare to the unexpected confidence boost Avery would get as the president’s motorcade passed by.

“So, we ran to the end of our driveway, and we were waving as it went by,” Jessica said. “And he got out and he said, ‘Hey, guys.’ Avery, in this amazing moment of courage of her own, stepped forward.”

“I have something that you have, so you have something in common,” Avery said. “And then I told him, I have a stutter.”

The family took a short cell phone video of the exchange. In it, the president is heard saying “I promise you it’s gonna go away if you just keep at it.”

“I think it’s a moment that will affect her in ways we don’t even know yet,” said mom, Jessica. “But for sure in these just first few days, the confidence we’ve seen is incredible.”

“I still stutter in school a lot. I said it a couple of times today and a few times yesterday,” Avery said. “And my brain just smiled at me because the President of the United States told me that I should just stick with the stutter and it will just let me be.”

Jessica Nigrelli said the president spoke with the family for about 10 minutes, sharing with Avery more advice, tips to work at, and compassion. She says it was a powerful illustration of the power of kind words.

“I will never forget that day,” Avery said. “And he told me to always be kind. The stutter, don’t let the stutter define who you are.”

The president invited Avery and her family to the White House so he can share more of her advice and tricks for overcoming a stutter.