• frontpage-logo
  • NYI-homepage-mobile-logo

  • Tom Kitt and Everett Bradley were among the celebrities who turned out for the SAY fundraiser Photo: Nicholas Gregory

    SAY marked its 10th Annual Paul Rudd Celebrity Bowling Benefit in January, which has raised more than $1.5 million dollars in support of life-changing programming for people who stutter.

    Paul Rudd’s film schedule precluded him from hosting the event this year, but Brandon Victor Dixon (Hell’s Kitchen) and Christopher Jackson (Hamilton) stepped in as hosts.

    A slew of celebrity guests from stage and screen turned out for the event at Manhattan Frames, including Camryn Manheim (Law & Order), Gregory Jbara (Blue Bloods), Thomas Kail (Hamilton, Sweeney Todd), and Tom Kitt (Hell’s Kitchen).

    Rudd discovered SAY while preparing to portray a person who stutters in Broadway’s Three Days of Rain.

    Christpher Jackson and Brandon Victor Dixson lead off the bowling at the SAY event. (Photo: Nicholas Gregory)

    He was coached by SAY Founder Taro Alexander and inspired by the incredible programs that SAY offers children and teens who stutter.

    He has since been an active advocate for the organization. To date, no child has ever been turned away from SAY camps, speech therapy, or creative arts programming due to their family’s inability to pay.

    “I’ve gotten to perform with the kids before,” said Jackson of the children whom the Foundation supports.

    Tom Kitt and Everett Bradley

    “It’s an amazing organization. I’ve been fortunate enough to be a professional artist for almost thirty years, and every waking moment of the day I’ve experienced some sort of issue with confidence, doubt, or fear.

    “To have an organization that is so specific to kids understanding their power in communicating and help them gain that confidence- I’ll be here for it all day long.”

    Dixon, who just finished a successful run of Hell’s Kitchen at the Public Theater, hinted at a return to the musical when it opens on Broadway in the spring.

    “I became introduced to SAY ten years ago at one of the early Paul Rudd benefits, back when he used to come,” he joked.

    Camrym Manheim (Photo: Nicholas Gregory)

    “It has been a real delight to watch these kids grow over the years. I have always had a challenge expressing myself, particularly when I was younger. It was important to me when I found mentors and educational spaces that would encourage me to speak up and use my voice.

    “SAY encourages kids to take their time and understand that even though it may take them a bit longer from time to time, what they have to say is still important and valid.”

    Manheim attended the gala after wrapping the fifth episode of the 23rd season of Law & Order.

    Christopher Jackson (Photo: Nicholas Gregory)

    “SAY really grabs my heart strings,” said Manheim, who has an inherent understanding of the importance in being heard; she has been a sign language interpreter for thirty years.

    “Not only does SAY help kids with all of their programs and camps, but what they really do is try to educate everyone else.

    “People who stutter are just people who stutter, and nothing more. We all have to be comfortable with it, not just the kids. It’s a big task to ask a kid and an adult to feel comfortable when they’re speaking. If they’re stuttering, people get impatient.

    “That’s why we have to teach everyone else to be patient.”

    Visit SAY.org for more information about how to support SAY and make anything possible in the life of a child who stutters.

    Christpher Jackson and Brandon Victor Dixson get ready to roll as well-wishers look on.